The Caves of Etretat by Matt Chatelain: Guest Post and Giveaway! *Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!!! International Giveaway!*
Posted by Krystal Larson at 9:09 PM Tuesday, June 5, 2012
My Inspiration for the cover design of the Sirenne Saga, a four-book epic adventure series.
By Matt Chatelain
When I was a kid, my mom took me to a library, where I found a book with a 3D cover. The image was fascinating, seeming deeper than the cover. That was the beginning of my obsession with perspective. It graduated into an addiction for pop-up books and illusions of all sorts when I grew up.
When I tried art, my focus for precision took over, requiring I spend inordinate amounts of time drawing endless detail. I would easily spend twenty-five hours on a drawing. Playing with different ideas, I eventually determined light was the key to perspective.
It's not so much the way light works as the way our mind works. We interpret light reflections to imply depth where none exists, creating illusions instead of perceiving reality. My interest in perspective drove me to study Escher's drawings. His impossible triangle was the ultimate design. So simple: a single shape, repeated three times, in slightly offset tones of the same color. Yet, it creates impossible angles in our minds, endlessly capturing the nature of illusion in its simplicity.
When it came time to design a book cover for 'The Caves of Etretat: Book One of Four', I knew it could be no simple thing. I wanted it to express the essence of the series, and the essence of each book, in the same cover. My only idea rolled around a painting I had done years ago, focused on Escher's impossible triangle. By coincidence, it had four triangles, the same number as the books in the series.
The painting was raw and the triangle assembly went in the wrong direction. I had to recreate it. After many botched attempts to design a perfect impossible triangle, I went to a graphic designer and had them make a physical copy, to my exacting specifications. I scanned it, using it as the base for my design. I found a free online star-field image and I was ready to assemble.
The triangles represented the importance of perspective and illusions through their eternally changing viewpoint. Since the series was a circular story, finishing at the beginning of book one, the cover could be used for all four books. All I needed were symbols to represent each book. I could move a different symbol to the main triangle as each new book was published.
Selecting appropriate symbols was challenging. I was out of my natural element. Words were of no use here. In the end, I I fell back on basics, drawing the 'Needle' of Etretat as my first symbol. Etretat, a small touristic town in France, is nestled between massive chalk cliffs, in the English Channel. In front of one of these cliffs rises a majestic needle of rock, three hundred feet in height. The focus of a hundred year old mystery (read 'The Hollow Needle' by Maurice Leblanc- a free kindle book), 'The Caves of Etretat' centers on it. A perfect choice.
Book two, 'The Four Books of Etretat', centers on a meteorite, buried inside the cliffs of Etretat, the source of immortality. It seemed natural to draw that as my second symbol. The weirdness started when I thought of the symbol for Book Three, 'The One Book of Etretat'. It was about quantum physics blending with the bible code. In a moment of inspiration, I noticed symbol one was an up-ended triangle, while symbol two was a down-ended triangle. Overlapping the two gave me the Star of David. It could not be coincidence.
When I thought of Book Four (the Greyman), the weirdness continued, going up a notch. 'The Greyman' was about the nature of reality, from the atom to the universe. I could take the Star of David and add a second star, rotating it slightly, making a new symbol. It looked like a sun but it also looked like an atom. My decision was made.
I ended up with a unique cover expressing the essence of 'the Sirenne Saga', each symbol representing one book, the overall image revealing the circular aspect of the story. I have to say, I agonised over the cover almost as much as I did writing the series. I don't think I will ever do as much work on a cover again. Art is not my strength. However, in this instance, it had to be done. The Sirenne Saga is a unique story, an action/adventure like no other, with meat on its bones and multiple levels to challenge you. It is a rollercoaster epic adventure, where nothing is as it seems; fiction with a powerful message.
Discover more about the Sirenne Saga at my website http://www.mattchatelain.com/ . You'll find audio excerpts, interviews and various articles as well as other goodies. 'The Caves of Etretat' is available at Kindle as Ebook for $3.95, and at Amazon.com in hardcopy for $14.95. Book two will be out by end of May 2012. All four books will be published by end of 2012. Sign up to win signed copies of the series on my website. Don't forget to leave a comment.
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