Great new review for Killer of Enemies

koe_cover_FNLFrom Kirkus Reviews:

This near future dystopia starring an Apache female superhero has the soul of a graphic novel, if not the art.

Like her famous Chiracahua ancestor, Lozen too is a warrior, but unlike her namesake, it’s by coercion. Her masters are four semihuman rulers of Haven, a walled fortress in what was once Arizona. Much of humanity perished when the Cloud, a mysterious force that’s rendered human technology useless, arrived from beyond Jupiter. Although their bio-enhancements no longer work, the despotic overlords that survive rule. Holding Lozen’s family as hostages, Haven’s rulers send her out to battle gemods, genetically modified monsters left over from pre-C days. Lozen complies while working toward her family’s escape. On each trip, she caches supplies, food, weapons. Allies—natural and supernatural, known and hidden, at Haven and in the wild—offer guidance but not rescue. For that, Lozen must rely on her wits, tracking skills and weaponry (guns have survived the Cloud), drawing strength from her warrior heritage to dispatch monstrous birds of prey, a giant anaconda and more (the cartoonish tone helps mute the graphic violence). Lozen’s tactics and weaponry are detailed at length but within a cultural framework that fosters respect for the planet and its surviving natural inhabitants.

A good bet for fans of superhero fiction and graphic novels and readers in search of superpowered female warriors.

And if you didn’t see it, here’s a post on how that great cover came to be.

How a book gets a cover, the prequel

Over on the Lee & Low blog this week and next, the designer of Vodnik—Isaac Stewart*—and I are discussing the design process of the book. What you see over there is very similar to the process I have with most designers. The designer reads the book and provides some concepts based on the things I’ve said I’d like to see, and what I tell him or her takes into account the author’s suggestions as well.

What I didn’t get into over there is what I do before that process begins, to think about what *I* want. Sometimes I have a very clear idea of what I’d like to see on a cover, or the author has such good suggestions that I just tell the designer, “Let’s try something like that!” And when the designer comes back with concepts (which we’re going to cover next week), often what they come up with is so much better than I could have thought up on my own that it sparks ideas that meld into something entirely new (again, see what we’ll be talking about next week for more on that part of the process).

But when I don’t have a clear idea of what I want, I tend to do something similar to what I hear writers do as they brainstorm: stare into space and appear as if I’m not working. I also take trips to the bookstore and collect covers I find intriguing for one reason or another in a Pinterest board (which isn’t very big yet, as I’ve just started doing this). The books on the board may or may not end up being used as inspiration when I talk to a designer eventually, but just thinking about type, images, and what stands out to me on a shelf and how these covers interact with each other helps me to think about what I’d like to see when we apply those ideas to the particular book I’m working on.

Then I come back to the office and I start rifling through my own bookshelves.













I pull out a bunch of books whose covers are interesting (some interesting in better ways than others, but this is all part of my process, thinking about what’s popular, what stands out, what is overdone, what I still love after several years, etc.). Then I sit and stare at them some more.

And eventually I come up with a few covers that I think will help the designer if I say, “Here are some key concepts I’m looking for, and here are some covers that I think stand out.” Then the designer will usually come back with something that takes those thoughts into consideration yet still completely blows me away. And that’s the most interesting part of the process, so stay tuned for next week’s post on the Lee & Low blog.


*Fun fact: Isaac is also Aprilynne Pike’s brother-in-law.