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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cover Reveal: The Shadowdance series by David Dalgish plus Q&A with the author (by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of A Dance of Cloaks 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of A Dance of Blades 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of A Dance of Death 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Review of Blood Of The Underworld 
Read FBC’s Interview with David Dalglish 

I have previously blogged about Orbit books picking up the Shadowdance series by David Dalglish. Yesterday David unveiled the fantabulous cover art for the first three books of the Shadowdance series and as an exclusive reveal to Fantasy Book Critic, he also announced the titles for all the six books of the series:

1] A Dance of Cloaks
2] A Dance of Blades
3] A Dance of Mirrors (previously known as A Dance Of Death)
4] A Dance of Shadows (previouly known as Blood Of The Underworld)
5] A Dance of Ghosts
6] A Dance of Chaos

Plus David also revealed in his blog post, that there is a Thren Felhorn novella in the works. Which I must say is absolutely smashing as a fan of the books, I can’t wait to read more about Thren. So there’s a lot more to look forward to come October and so here are a few questions that David was kind enough to answer in regards to the covers as well as the series relaunch:

Q] Welcome back to Fantasy Book Critic, firstly congratulations on the freaking awesome covers. So how did they come about? How much did you input did you have?

DD: Really early on, before we’d even signed the official contract for the Shadowdance series, I’d been hearing ideas and plans for the bookcovers. I, of course, kept trying to insinuate to the art team about how difficult it’d be to surpass the original covers, and how people would be putting them side by side to compare, etc. Did it help? Not a clue, but by God, if I could get an art team to have their pride challenged, I was going to try! I’d like to think the results show their effort though, regardless of my clumsy insinuations (a BIG thank you to Kirk Benshoff, Michael Frost & Gene Mollica for their amazing efforts) .

As for input: very, very little. I described Haern’s overall wardrobe, weaponry, and most particularly his cloak. At one point they sent me a few designs, and I picked which one for the cloak was most appropriate. Not that I really demanded they keep it strict. For a book cover, I’m always willing to sacrifice absolute accuracy to the story for something that looks even more awesome. As for the cloak itself, I had a phone conversation with the art director, who kept asking me questions…questions I couldn't quite answer. So finally I gave up.

When in doubt,” I told him, “just make it like Batman’s.”

Lots of laughter after that, but hey, if it works, it works.

Q] The series title is Shadowdance and it actually encompasses your previous Shadowdance trilogy and the Watcher’s Blade trilogy. What was the reason/s for combining them and for sticking with the title Shadowdance?

DD: Originally A Dance of Cloaks was going to be a one-shot story, a standalone, but its popularity (as well as unfinished story) clearly meant that wasn't going to happen. So I switched it from a standalone to a trilogy, and then marketed it as such. Well after a year or so of finishing the third in the trilogy I had an idea to converge several of my various series in a follow up set of books to the Shadowdance novels. I was tempted to label it as Shadowdance #4…but I’d already switched it from a standalone to a trilogy, so making it a series seemed kind of insane. So instead I labeled it a new trilogy, The Watcher’s Blade.

Fast forward to discussions with Devi Pillai (editor and acquisitions and overall awesome lady at Orbit) who had just finished reading book four. She asked me why it was separate instead of just Shadowdance #4, if there was any real reason why they couldn't be together. Well, as you can imagine, Orbit couldn't care less about all my changes before. If we’re going to relaunch these books…well, then let’s relaunch them as a series, since that’s basically what it already is.

Q] You have often mentioned that Haern the Watcher is favorite character among your fans. How would you introduce him and this series to new readers and why should they give it a try?

DD: Haern is a man who was raised by his father, Thren Felhorn, to be heir to a vast criminal empire (think the Godfather, only in medieval times). He was constantly trained, in both combat and in more intelligent matters. He was denied friends, loved ones, alcohol, freedom to travel the streets alone…anything that might be a distraction. And then, slowly, this shy, ruthless boy breaks from his father. Everything he does now is a rebellion against the ideals he was raised upon. His scope slowly broadens beyond warring against his father, and the rest of the thief guilds, until he finds himself as the guardian of an entire city. There’s a ton of betrayals, a lot of gray characters and heroes, and a stupid amount of combat.

If that sounds awesome to you, then sweet, we’ll get along great.

Q] Lastly with your fabulous covers, there are going to be those few who will rail about “another hooded figure fantasy cover” but in your case, it’s actually in line with the book descriptions of Haern’s dressing and fighting styles. Was this an intentional move?

DD: Hah! I actually released a supposed ‘reveal’ of A Dance of Cloak’s new Orbit cover on April 1st that said something to that extent. For me, there’s only the problem of “yet another hooded figure” problem if the cover itself is generic, and relying solely on the overused elements to add mystery and gravitas to a cover that otherwise has nothing else about it to stand out.

That’s clearly not the case here. The coloring, the backgrounds, and most importantly of all, the titular cloak is magnificently done. The art team put a lot of effort into adding a feel of motion to the covers as well, to make them look fluid and alluring. I’m obviously biased, but I think they nailed it, just nailed it.

And yes, you’re right, Haern is indeed very much described as such, all dark and cloaked and hooded. I like archetypes. I love working with archetypes. But I also love making them mine, and slowly adding depth and a personal attachment to these characters. Readers seeing this cover should know exactly what they’re getting: assassins, medieval weaponry, fast action, and an overabundance of cloaks.

Q] Thanks for your time David, any other news/comments you would like to share with the FBC readers?

DD: The transition over to both Orbit and 47North has caused an obvious delay in new material by yours truly as I work on all these older books. I promise the results, and overall improvement on these stories, will easily be worth the delay. And then when the new stuff starts coming out, well…then it’s time to have a ball. Orbit is only going to push me harder and harder to improve. The covers are improved, but the story within is as well, and to everyone willing to be patient with me during this whole process, thank you from the bottom of my heart.


az060693 said...

Haha I was just thinking about the similarities between the covers and that of the Night Angel series. Both are also published by orbit, but then I scrolled down and saw the edited cover of the night angel series lolll

M R Mathias said...

They should have done the cloaks so that when a cover rotator flips through the series in order it looks like a fan of cloaks spinning. Simple .gif. It would probably be the most viewed website header in fantasy. That kind of thinking is why I'm still not published. :-) I know David will be a success, he already is in my eyes. Orbit is the real winner here. For a half days work on covers and a stamp, they get a cut off of a future master of the genre.

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

I have the first on my Nook. I had planned to be through it already, but life got rather messy. I do need to read it. :) Liking the new covers.

The Reader said...

Hi Mel,

I would recommend reading the Orbit version now as there's been some major editing and story changes.



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