"Conjure Seven" cover design by Bryan Mahoney. Nap by Fergus Hammertime. Typewriter by Underwood.
I missed Clive Cussler by a week.
I'd just arrived at my new home, a training ship docked under the Throgs Neck Bridge in The Bronx. It was part of the SUNY Maritime College - students spent a Summer Sea Term aboard this ship to learn how to be deckhands and engineers on freighters and cruise ships. I was here for a three-month summer job as a yeoman on the ship.
"You know, Clive Cussler was just here," said my boss. "He was the guest speaker at graduation. Too bad for you; he could have signed that book."
I was deep in my political-spy-thriller phase. Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton, and Mr. Cussler all presented plausible science fiction as if it were really happening. And their books ... there was this style to the covers that was always so cool. Big title, big author name, but a small symbol hinting at the secrets within. What did that symbol mean? Is it portending the doom about to shape the world, or is it the trinket the hero must seek to unlock the secrets of the hidden civilization?
Then I met Erik Day.
We've been friends for years. Met innocently enough at the table of the writers' group my wife and I were starting up.
Before long, he was running it with us.
For seven or so years the three of us have run The Quill & Pint Writers Group in Burbank, CA. I've had the privilege of experiencing his writing at least once a month for that entire time.
When he writes, it's like he's channeling all the great thrillers. Clippy cool dialogue like Dirk Pitt. Fantastic technology rooted in the real like the setup of The Andromeda Strain. And he does this effortlessly and on the spot.
In 2021 he finished the draft of his novel, "Conjure Seven." And he asked me for a copy edit (I said yes before he finished the sentence) and possibly ... maybe ... a book cover ...
How could I say no!? How could I possibly turn down the opportunity to create one of those powerful covers that SCREAMS techno-thriller-science-fiction-cool? And for a good friend about to realize his dreams as an author?
We set to work almost immediately. The story is set in the near future after the world discovers magic is real and usable as a source of energy, as understandable and real as any branch of physics. It's got an entirely plausible conceit, grounded in the four fundamental forces of electromagnetism, gravity, and strong and weak nuclear forces. I researched symbols that would represent these elements, plus I researched the alchemists of the 14th and 15th century (who themselves took their research from Aristotle, Socrates and Plato). These early scientists used the science they had available to them to explain the unexplainable forces of the cosmos and how they relate to spiritual forces. And so many of their drawings were right on; they just didn't know those circles they were drawing were the basic physics of elecromagnetism.
In my early sketches I plotted out atomic symbols, radio waves ... any of those unseen things I could think of.
Like Thor implies in the Marvel movies, sometimes magic is just science we haven't discovered yet.
In terms of the colors for the covers, well, you've got to know Erik. If Erik himself was a color he'd be Safety Orange. And if he were a car he'd be a Jeep, but one of those Jeeps with the extra gas tank and the winch on the front that could take out a horde of zombies.
No spoilers here but an orange Jeep plays prominently in "Conjure Seven." And my wife said, "That's the cover right there." But I am also a Jeep guy and I love the yellow Jeeps. So I digitally sampled some Jeep orange and a little Jeep yellow and ... whaBAM. Book cover.
(Erik is texting me that the actual Safety Orange is f04f24).
There are some other elements on the cover that I can't really talk about. Not until you've read it. And you can, by the way - it launches this Tuesday. Check it out here on Amazon.