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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

COVER REVEAL: The Crimson Queen & The Silver Sorceress + Alec Hutson Q&A (by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official Author Website
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Crimson Queen
Read Fantasy Book Critic's interview with Alec Hutson

The Crimson Queen by Alec Hutson was FBC’s SPFBO finalist in last year’s competition and one of the best debuts that I’ve ever read amidst all the self-published books I’ve read in the last decade. The cover though was a bit staid as I had noted in my review.

Recently though Alec Hutson decided to engage the dream team of John Anthony Di Giovanni & Shawn King to update the cover for his debut The Crimson Queen as well as have them create a brand spanking one for the just released sequel The Silver Sorceress.

Alec was super kind enough to answer a few questions about the covers and his decision to go with the dream team. So enjoy his answers and checkout both the amazing covers:

Order The Crimson Queen HERE

Official TCQ Blurb - Long ago the world fell into twilight, when the great empires of old consumed each other in sorcerous cataclysms. In the south the Star Towers fell, swallowed by the sea, while the black glaciers descended upon the northern holdfasts, entombing the cities of Min-Ceruth in ice and sorcery. Then from the ancient empire of Menekar the paladins of Ama came, putting every surviving sorcerer to the sword and cleansing their taint from the land for the radiant glory of their lord.

The pulse of magic slowed, fading like the heartbeat of a dying man.

But after a thousand years it has begun to quicken again.

In a small fishing village a boy with strange powers comes of age...

A young queen rises in the west, fanning the long-smoldering embers of magic into a blaze once more...

Something of great importance is stolen - or freed - from the mysterious Empire of Swords and Flowers...

And the immortals who survived the ancient cataclysms bestir themselves, casting about for why the world is suddenly changing...

Order The Silver Sorceress HERE

Official TSS Blurb - Following the deadly assault on the Scholia by the kith’ketan, Keilan and Nel pursue the paladin Senacus south, hoping to catch him before he can vanish into the Gilded Cities. Nel desires vengeance for the death of her lover, while Keilan hopes to find answers about the immortal sorcerers who sought to challenge the Crimson Queen . . .

In the Empire of Swords and Flowers a young woman is called upon to avenge her father’s death and return honor to her family . . .

And after a millennia-long imprisonment, the monstrous Chosen are again free to work their dark will upon the world of man . . .

Q] Welcome back to Fantasy Book Critic, and congratulations on the new spectacular cover for The Crimson Queen. What lead you to get newer cover art for your debut title?

AH: Well, The Crimson Queen was my first foray into publishing, and I have to admit that despite my best efforts I didn't really know what I was doing, or know very much about the book creation process. I did luck out because I actually really love the art of the first cover of Queen, and I think it certainly contributed to my first book's positive reception. But though I loved the art I thought the typography could be improved - IMO, what really separates a good cover from a great cover is often the quality of the text on the cover. So as I was planning for The Silver Sorceress I thought it would be cool to redo Queen and engage two of the very best professionals who work with indie publishers. I wanted a strong series branding so that all the books in the series would look great together on a book case.

Q] How did you end up selecting John Anthony Di Giovanni as the artist for the new covers? What drew you to his style?

AH: John's art blows me away. I love it. I had seen it before, actually, and marveled at how awesome it was, though I didn't know he was the artist - that would be Michael R. Fletcher's Ghosts of Tomorrow. But it was when my friend Dyrk Ashton had his excellent Paternus reskinned that I put a name to the art I'd previously seen and liked. John has an incredible talent, not just for drawing, but also for infusing the scenes with tension and a real sense of wonder and the fantastic. I feel very lucky he agreed to work with me.

Q] What were your main pointers for your cover artist & Shawn King (cover design) as you all went through the process of finalizing it? What were the main things that you wished to focus on in it?

AH: My directions are always really vague, and thank goodness these guys are so incredibly talented. I wanted a strong series branding, and otherwise just let him loose. I love what he came up with.

Q] The sequel The Silver Sorceress is releasing soon/has been released. What readers expect from the story?

AH: They should expect a continuation of the storylines introduced in The Crimson Queen - Keilan will continue to develop his powers and personality, Jan will wrestle with the horrors of the past and what he was a part of, and Alyanna will scheme to reclaim what she has lost. I'm also introducing a new character - Cho Lin, the daughter of the Shan demon hunter from The Crimson Queen. Some of the book takes place in Shan, and I took as a model and inspiration the Chinese Wuxia TV shows and movies that I have seen while living over here in China. So it's not supposed to be historically accurate, but a romanticized version of ancient China - just like most fantasy fiction is a romanticized version of medieval Europe.

It was also important to me that I have some payoffs in this story - there were plenty of mysteries introduced in Queen, and I wanted the readers to feel like some of them were explored in this book. I don't like it when writers cram all the reveals into the final third of the last book - or drop some of the mysteries that they've introduced all together. That said, it is a middle book in a trilogy. I'm quite happy with it, but I am worried that readers will reach the end and feel like it doesn't have the arc resolution that The Crimson Queen had, which was a bit more self contained. By the last chapter the pieces are all set up for the final book - and I'm excited about what I have planned - but perhaps it's not quite as satisfying a resolution as the first. We'll see.

Q] How's your writing going for book III and how many more books will be required to reach your ideal conclusion to the Raveling series?

AH: The plotting / planning is going well. I'm excited to start. I've actually been writing a sword and sorcery book this summer, something short and exciting, about 75k words. It's due at my editor in mid-October. Then I'll spend a few weeks finalizing my thoughts for book three and dive in when November rolls around. I'm hoping to write at least 20k words a month (I know - so slow. I'm the slowest writer ever) and if I can keep up that pace I'd expect to finish May / June of next year. so realistically expecting a publication date of this time next year.

Q] Thank you again for your time, any parting thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?

AH: Well, just that I really appreciate the support that readers of The Crimson Queen have showed me. I hope they enjoy The Silver Sorceress.



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