It’s cover reveal day! I’ve been waiting for a looooong time to finally show the world the cover of Bjørn Larssen‘s upcoming novel, Children. I’m going to miss teasing Bjørn about fiddling with the book, but release day draws near as well and I’m really excited for it to be out in the world. I’ve read a very early version of it, and I think it’s going to find its audience in no time.
Today I teamed up with the awesome Justine at Whispers and Wonder, who created the logo used for the cover. Go and check out her post to learn about her process and inspiration!
Children is the first book of The Ten Worlds series expected to be released on October 3rd. And you can already add it to your Goodreads shelf!
Bjørn Larssen is a Norse heathen made in Poland, but mostly located in a Dutch suburb, except for his heart which he lost in Iceland. Born in 1977, he self-published his first graphic novel at the age of seven in a limited edition of one, following this achievement several decades later with his first book containing multiple sentences and winning awards he didn’t design himself. His writing is described as ‘dark’ and ‘literary’, but he remains incapable of taking anything seriously for more than 60 seconds.
Bjørn has a degree in mathematics and has worked as a graphic designer, a model, a bartender, and a blacksmith (not all at the same time). His hobbies include sitting by open fires, dressing like an extra from Vikings, installing operating systems, and dreaming about living in a log cabin in the north of Iceland. He owns one (1) husband and is owned by one (1) neighbourhood cat.
Magni never wanted to be like his father, a murderous, absent, cheating alcoholic: Thor – the feared and beloved God of thunder. When Thor destroys everything and everyone his son knows and loves, Magni vows to stop the violence. His dream is to bring peace and prosperity to the Nine Worlds, then settle down with the man he loves. But is it possible to remain good in a place this bad? How do you escape cruelty in a universe built on it, or the shadow of your father when everyone calls you by his name?
Maya knows she’s a failure and a disappointment to her foster-parents. How could a child raised by Freya and Freyr – Goddess of love and God of sex – have no interest in the greatest of pleasures? Obviously, it couldn’t be the torture they subjected her to, or treating her as a tool that might someday be useful. Maya, her rage at their games more powerful than she knows, wants freedom to pursue her own destiny. But how do you forge your own life away from your God-parents when you’re nothing more than human?
A retelling of the Norse myths unlike any other, Children will answer all the questions you never knew you had about the heathen Nine Worlds… before leading you into the Tenth.
Children underwent 29 full rewrites since the first draft was completed in April 2019. What was originally going to be a light re-telling of selected Norse myths – my take on what I expected, but didn’t get from Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology – kept the plot and characters throughout, gradually changing the book’s genre instead.
Halfway through the process I decided (i.e. was told by a beta reader) that I was writing Nordic mythic epic fantasy. As the book is the first part of a duology and has two main characters, Magni and Maya, I decided to put one of them on the cover. My original idea was to commission a painting of both next to each other that I would then crop creating two separate covers, while also selling the entire painting as a poster. There were three obstacles: first, I kept changing my mind about what should appear on the painting, except for the characters themselves; second, I found out how much that would cost; third, the eBay terms and conditions forbid selling kidneys.
In my search for photos that would serve as inspiration/explanation for the painter, I found a model who could have as well been Magni. Once it became clear the painting wasn’t going to happen I tried and failed to turn that photo into something that would convincingly pretend to be a painting. A few hours… okay, days… okay, weeks of work followed before I decided that I was pleased with the cover. Every now and then I looked at it again and nodded in approval. Yes, that was it.
A few months before finishing the book I commissioned a logo for The Ten Worlds series. Originally I planned to place a small logo on the book spines and covers, using various colours to differentiate between the fun books (they’re coming) and the serious ones. I loved the logo so much that using a small version of it felt like a waste. I enlarged it a bit. Then a bit more. Moved it around the photo-based design, unable to find any sensible spot for it. I decided to figure it out later, since a bigger problem arose.
The title Children posed a certain branding problem, since it didn’t suggest any genre at all. I used a “fantasy-ish font”, added fire and ravens, finally changed the title to Children of the Gods. In all honesty, even though it made sense, I didn’t like doing it. I continued referring to the book as Children, sometimes completely forgetting that the title changed at all. The new one didn’t sit right with me. And then what I refer to as The Accident happened.
A friend took a screenshot of a Facebook ad and showed it to me. Children of the Gods was already proving to be very popular. Amongst the readers of (so far) 43 erotica books about alien BDSM vampires. Talk about branding problems! It got even worse when I carefully checked the vampires’ Amazon pages and found out they scored Kindle All-Stars bonuses, meaning that they made the author rich – and had a massive advertising budget. Put together, this meant that I could end up with reviews complaining about the complete absence of alien vampires in my book… assuming there would be any reviews or sales at all, because it was clear that with 43 alien vampire competitors my book would never appear above #44 in search results.
I changed the title back and returned to agonising over the cover.
At this point I was definitely not writing anything like “real” epic fantasy anymore. Somehow I (or rather the book) have steered towards literary historical fiction with Norse Gods and magic in it. The cover became misleading again. The font used for the title had to change; the raven and fire had to go. This left me with nothing but the face close-up and the logo.
I made the logo a bit larger again. Then one more time. The photograph became redundant and I got rid of it. Together with everything else. I completed the design by setting the tree on fire and using the colour scheme that any blacksmith will find familiar. If nothing else, I’m almost certain that no alien BDSM vampire fans will be confused by the result.
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