THE SKIN by JE Hannaford (COVER REVEAL)
Today we welcome JE Hannaford to the Hive. Her debut novel The Skin, the first book in the The Black Hind’s Wake duology, will be out on October 18th!
We are lucky to be allowed to share the gorgeous cover – but before you get to feast your eyes, and get to read what Jenny has to say about her book and the cover art, here’s the blurb:
You cannot fix this world alone, selkie.’‘I know. But, when we die, all that is left are shadows of our lives preserved in the memories of those who remain. I plan on leaving an exceptionally long shadow, filled with ripples of moonlight for those I helped, and darker than the worst of nightmares for those who wronged us.’–How far would you go to save your skin?–I’m a selkie, trapped above the waves until I can recover my skin. Humans used to call us seal-wives many years ago – before they broke the planet. Up here, the magic is fading and Old Ones like me are traded as trophies for rich and powerful humans to display in collections.Without the Old Ones, the magic fades, without magic, the planet dies.–Humankind has gone too far and someone has to put a stop to it, I just wasn’t expecting it to be me.
Enough suspense now, without further ado – the cover, and some words by the author!
‘So, we are all agreed that selkies are the most useless of all fantasy creatures.’
Mythical Beasts Top Trumps – the closing panel of Bristol Con 2019.
As I heard the words, a short story character from a few years prior raised her head in my mind. (Yes my characters do talk to me.)
‘I’m a long way from useless. Let’s show them,’ she said.
At first, I ignored her. After all, I had just finished my first novel and was halfway through its sequel. But, she wouldn’t stop nudging. The ideas grew more solid, and I’ll admit, I was a little nervous. After all, this is not a retelling. The Skin is set several hundred years into the future. I suppose, you could almost call it climate fiction. It is an alt future, maritime-folklore fantasy. Yeah . . . it was never going to pitch well to agents. Then, on top of that – it had selkies in. Not useless ones whose skins were stolen, who fell in love with their captors, until they were rescued; but ones who had a strong sense of self and a penchant for marine venoms. (Author search history problems, anyone?)
I am a Marine Biologist, who frequently jokes that I have saltwater not blood. My happy place is on the beach. Not a sunny, sandy tourist spot, but a wild, stormy beach, where the waves crash and the sea-foam drifts on the wind, racing up the shore to scatter into hundreds of tiny bubbles. I particularly love rock-pools, and studying the treasures within. So does the selkie, although she prefers to eat them – in fact her very first scene on paper involved a rock-pool. You could say we bonded over periwinkles.
The Skin is a tale of Selkie finding her place in a world both strange and dangerous. It is a story of those who helped her, and those she helped. I delved deeper into selkie folklore, and found overlaps with other marine legends from further north, including rumours of selkie curses, and their long forgotten powers to arm her. She accepted the gifts gratefully.
Then, the selkie began to tell her tale. I never refer to her by her name. She’ll tell you herself – when she is ready. The Skin is a tale of selkies and sirens, of poisons and found family, but most of all, it is a story about choosing the difficult path for the good of the world.
The art for The Skin grew from the themes and viewpoints of the book, both the internal chapter art by Carina Roberts and the cover by Paul at Trif Book Design. I have been incredibly privileged to have worked with two very talented artists.
On the cover, Selkie herself takes centre stage, as we see her in chapter one and as she should be. The blue glow and colouration of the background represents the colour of her magic, as she sees it. The cormorant is the sole crew member of the boat Black Hind, his eye glowing green, like the hair of the crew member he is bonded to.
Deep in the water below Selkie, we see the tail of something large and serpentine hidden below the waves. Possibly an Old One – a leathergill siren from the far north, a caretaker of the planet.
The fishing vessel helps us to place the book as being far past the age of sail and, I hope helps ground the reader’s expectations as far as technology goes, re-enforcing that this is not a medieval setting.
I knew that an image, within an image, was the style of cover I dreamed of, and that there was only one designer I truly wanted to do it. Paul at Trif book design agreed to take on the Black Hind’s Wake series, and has done an incredible job bringing my ideas to life. I’m so excited to share The Skin’s cover with you today.
Writer of words, builder of worlds. J E Hannaford is powered by coffee, dragons and whisky. She teaches Biology in the real world and invents fantasy beasts to populate her own.
‘I have always loved books. I was the kind of child who thought they were reading sneakily, while my parents tiptoed past the cracks of light from under my bedroom door. Nights passed in a blur of words as I vanished willingly into their pages, lost for days, only coming up for air to deal with the real world when it called.
My imagination has always been sparked by my cultural mythology. From the creatures of The Mabinogion to modern folk stories, I devoured them all. I have a natural affinity for dragons too, after all, every sunset is merely the Welsh Dragon calling me home.
I fell in love with biology too. Marine biology to be specific. The weird and wonderful animals on this world and the legacy and hints of its previous occupants are endlessly fascinating.
All these things – these dreams and fascinations – were bound to merge one day, finding their blending in the Black Hind’s Wake series. I invite you to submerge yourself in a world filled with characters I’d both want to meet, and be afraid to, with deep, dark places, hidden secrets and wondrous creatures.
May my worlds and characters find a home in your heart, the way so many others live in mine.’