The other day, I was Googling stuff about fantasy novels that have prominent espionage threads in them. (There really aren’t very many when compared to other genre mashups.) Anyway, I came upon this article entitled “An Uncoiled Spring: The Absence of Real-world Tensions,” which examines how some science fiction and fantasy stories go about incorporating “the devices and techniques of espionage fiction,” as put by author Chris Gerwel.
I got the idea a couple of weeks ago while sitting in my living room, a copy of S. A. Chakraborty’s debut fantasy novel The City of Brass sitting next to me. It’s been sitting there for some time now. Like weeks.
Why? Because the cover and interior book designs are just so freakin’ gorgeous.
You can’t tell in the digital photo, but all the brass color parts have a metallic sheen to them, and the title is also embossed. It’s just a really well-done design. (The only issue I have is the interior font itself; I find it too distracting and wouldn’t be able to read the whole novel with it. Luckily, I’ve already read the e-book version instead.)
So why create a mood board? Well, some of you may know that my background is in interior design. I used to work with clients and would create mood boards to give them an idea of what updating their homes could look like. I used a different kind of layout and format in that case, but the board I made for The City of Brass is a similar idea only less literal—this goes here and that goes there—and more conceptual. Also, this one is less a historically or culturally accurate interpretation and based more on a mood or feeling, hence the term “mood board.”
Anyway, I thought this would be a fun little exercise. It’s been a while since I made one of these. 🙂 I started with the rug (it’s one I actually have in my home now; highly recommended!) and branched off from there. You can check out the Pinterest board I started with, as well, if you’d like to see more furniture and home decor that’s in a similar vein to what’s on the board.
What are some of your favorite book cover designs?
Do you have books that you keep around just because they’re pretty? Also, would you like to see more of these kinds of boards? Let me know in the comments!
So I was Googling stuff about the difference between epic and high fantasy earlier when I somehow came across this blog post by a black writer named Derek Tyce who asks a poignant question: “Black authors writing fantasy… Where are they?” Naturally, being both black and interested in fantasy, I was intrigued, so I decided to read on to see what he had to say.
…And it got me thinking.
First of all, I must note that Derek, of course, does mention a few black writers like N. K. Jemisin and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms series, among others (which I read the first book of though wasn’t terribly crazy about it myself; still, I found certain things to admire and appreciate). There are others, which fans have pointed out, but Derek’s point still stands: why aren’t there more black writers tackling epic fantasy? He also points out a lack of diversity among the characters displayed in epic fantasy stories. Granted, his post was written back in 2013 and a lot of new stuff has come out since then, but these are all still relevant topics to consider.
As I comb through my finished draft of The Elementalist: Rise of Hara (TEROH from here on out), reading it out loud for awkward sentence structures and flowing cadences, I’ve come to realize that my novel has a surprising amount of dark writing themes—surprising to me only because I never intentionally sat down and told myself, “Hey, I’m gonna write a dark fantasy novel!” All the same, it’s making me seriously consider whether my story is even a bit neo-noir.
It’s very much dieselpunk and fantasy, sure, but that doesn’t describe the tone. Not that a series of labels for a novel has to, per se, but if I want to give people a better idea of what they can expect from TEROH, then I wonder now if I should also be adding “neo-noir” to the mix somewhere. (Depending on what version of my blurb I use, I could see people interpreting the story as a light-hearted, swashbuckling type, which could be misleading. Especially if I use my shorter “under 200 words” version versus my slightly longer “under 300 words” one, the latter currently showing on my site.)
Before I get ahead of myself, let me explain why I suspect my novel may be neo-noir.Read More »