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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!*

Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Comment for a chance to win a $20 Gift Card, open INT!

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 . 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 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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  1. Anas said...:

    Thruthfully I cannot remember any 3D bookcovers from my childhood library visits but it's amzing that something like that touched you so much and inspired you!


  1. G said...:

    had no idea this much effort went into book covers!
    ceis8009 at yahoo dot com

  1. Thank you so much for your kind comments. Check my website for more about the series, if you get the chance. You'll also find audio excerpts from the 'Caves of Etretat'.

  1. Thank you for the giveaway the book looks like a wonderful read. Gale

  1. June M. said...:

    I can't think of any 3D book covers from when I was a child. I do remember loving to go to the library from the time I was a young girl. That was always my favorite thing to do, I remember even as young as 1st grade picking out books and bringing them home to read to my younger brother.

    It is great that something inspired you so much. The book covers would be hard for me to come up with, I am just not artistic.
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  1. tjmetz said...:

    Thank you so much for the insight into what goes into creating cover art - I never dreamed it would be so indepth and I appreciate the viewpoint, especially since I am a huge fan of cover art (it is sometimes the selling point of a book for me!)
    draoi7383 @

  1. My gosh...That seems like so much thought and effort for the cover. Covers are important, but this seems almost obsessive! LOL...

  1. It was obsessive! I doubt I'll ever do as much for a cover again but the series was far more than just a series. It involved me so much. I'm not quite done with it yet, working on a non-fiction essay titled 'The world of illusion' as backbone to the series. I wouldn't want anyone to judge book covers by what I went through. I did some other covers and they took me an hour or so. Check them out at smashwords. There are three free short stories with covers I made. The one for 'My Dream about Mark' is my favorite. I did it with clip art and it was done in less than one hour. Thanks everyone for your great comments.

  1. Covers really can make or break a book. I've noticed from the giveaways I host that more than anything the cover seems to be a huge factor in how many entries a book gets.
    bkhabel at gmail dot com

  1. Unknown said...:

    So much thought put into the cover!

  1. Lori Thomas said...:

    I remember a couple books I had as a kid had 3D art on the covers. It would fascinate me to just keep moving the cover around lol

    ctymice at gmail dot com

  1. Unknown said...:

    i had never thought about the depths of some book covers. i was intrigued by your explanations. i am sure the novels will be worthy of the covers. Thank you for a great post, and the awesome opportunity to win.


    marianne dot wanham at gmail dot com

  1. bn100 said...:

    Very nice and informative post.


  1. Lmbrunken said...:

    Wow never knew there was 3D covered books. Sounds interesting

  1. Nicola said...:

    Covers are definitely important! Thanks for the giveaway.

  1. I love to look at covers but they don't make or break books fpr me. I don't remember any covers from when I was little.

    mmafsmith at gmail dot com

  1. ann said...:

    Very inspiring I enjoyed your review and the processing of doing the book cover. I to loved the library as a child and still do, I can spend hours there. Book covers make or break a book sometimes but a 3D one as a child I havent ever seen one.

  1. Unknown said...:

    Great review! I never thought about how much work just the cover contains. Thank you!

  1. Anonymous said...:

    My partner and I stumbled over here from
    a different page and thought I should check things out.
    I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to going over your web page again.
    my site - Nathalie L. Warren

  1. Unknown said...:

    Woah...that's so much work!

  1. Unknown said...:

    I'm obsessed with pop-up books too. Wouldn't it be cool to make some sort of interactive cover?

  1. elin said...:

    Covers are important in catching a reader's attention.
    emilymeimei204 at yahoo dot com

  1. I love book covers (I don't like ebooks just because I can't stare at my pretty covers!) It is very interesting to know where cover designs come from.
    lexie.bookbug at gmail dot com

  1. Rebecca Hipworth said...:

    Thank you for the giveaway.
    I shall check this book out.

  1. Evie said...:

    I remember a 3D postcard that my uncle sent me when I was a kid. I thought it was so cool :) I loved it.
    It's really nice to know more about all the hard work to create a book cover!
    thanks a lot for the giveaway :)

  1. Unknown said...:

    I had magic eye books as a kid. I loved the look of them and how it always popped out. I actually think i still have one hanging around the house somewhere although it's possible it got packed? I never knew so much work went into covers though.

    Thank you for the giveaway.

  1. One of the big drawbacks to e books is the lack of awesome covers.
    I find myself often stroking the newer touchy feely covers that many book now sport.

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  1. Gigi said...:

    Covers are the ones to draw us for the chance to read a book! So, they´re really important!


  1. Dovile said...:

    I'm always interested to learn how covers are made, so thanks for the interview.

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

  1. Fascinating!! I love how involved you were in the whole creative process.


  1. Julie S said...:

    Interesting, thanks for the post :)

  1. Anonymous said...:

    I hope all of your hard work on your cover pays off!

  1. Erica G said...:

    Even though you should not judge a book by its cover, I believe most of us do. I love the story behind the cover work.

    cinderwhims at gmail dot com

  1. Sonia said...:

    I haven't seen a book with a 3D cover. See if I can find one in the next library visit. :-)


  1. I imagine that it would be hard t choose a good cover for your book as so many people wont even glance at it if you choose wrong. I know that for me It has to at least catch my attention in some way and the I will look into it more. Thank you for your insights!

    megnate at telus dot net

  1. Stacy said...:

    The 3D cover is pretty cool, and it looks like an interesting series.

    the imagine tree at aol dot com

  1. Book looks good, thanks for the giveaway.


  1. Anonymous said...:

    Definitely an interesting topic. I have never really thought about all that goes into designing a book cover before.

  1. Anonymous said...:

    Keep up the weirdness! This sounds like a cool book with a cool cover :)


  1. Unknown said...:

    I had no idea that that much went into cover art. I knew a lot when into it but holy cow I never knew it was that much.

  1. Denise Z said...:

    To me the cover is incredibly important. It is the first thing that draws my eye to the title and will often affect whether or not I pick it up to read the synopsis. I am glad you have felt the importance of this in your work. Thank you for sharing with us today.

  1. Cover art is so important. That's what makes me pick up a book.
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  1. Kalex said...:

    Can't say as I recall any 3D book covers, but then again, I'm far more interested by what's between the covers rather than what's on the cover.

  1. Christina K. said...:

    I love it when authors share a little bit about their childhood, because you can really see the roots of their talent there.

    Interesting about the covers! Covers play a major role, at least for me, when I choose books. I read the back as well, but the cover needs to be attractive and also it shouldn't be misleading. The covers the author described sound perfect.

    ccfioriole at gmail dot com

  1. Well, interesting.

  1. thanks for sharing some of your background!


  1. Jennifer said...:

    I love that so much time was spent thinking about the cover. I am obsessed with a good cover.

    Sounds interesting. Thanks.

    jlkalman26 at gmail dot com

  1. Rachel said...:

    This is very interesting, and something I'm definitely going to look into.

  1. Cathy C said...:

    the cover is always what draws me to a book even when i was little

    thanks for the chance to win!

    catherine0807 at hotmail dot com

  1. hs said...:

    LOL I love 3D covers, too! I still find them fascinating :)


  1. I really enjoyed your explanation on the cover art. Thanks. The books sound interesting too.

  1. Unknown said...:

    That's pretty interesting. Unfortunately I don't really read hardcover/paper back books anymore. I spent 6 months in a wheelchair & hauling my book around with me just wasn't reasonable so I put the Kindle app on my phone & I've been hooked since. I bought some more books from my favorite used book store shortly after I was walking again & unfortunately have not read them. I've just come to accept that I'm done reading books that aren't electronic but I really do love books. The cover art always intrigues me & it has been what has drawn me to most of the books that I have read. I love that you put so much thought into your covers.

  1. i agree that covers are very important. I do actually remember 1 3d cover from when i was younger but i can't remember which book it was for the life of me.

  1. Thanks again for having a great giveaway!!

  1. Congrats on the 2nd book coming out!! Only a few more days!! :D

  1. Darlene said...:

    It is always interesting where authors get their ideas for their cover art. I am one of those types that will often buy a book on a whim if the cover strikes me!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com

  1. magic5905 said...:

    Thanks for the giveaway. Books looks good. Thanks.
    magic5905 at embarqmail dot com

  1. I do judge a book by its cover.- Tara Berke Tores

  1. Cover art is great!!

    Thanks for the amazing giveaway!!


  1. I know they say don't judge a book by its cover, I often do, in fact if I walk past a cover with a unicorn, dragon, I normally have to pick it up and it immediately gets my interest, carawling(at)hotmail(dot)com

  1. Lili said...:

    I can't remember any 3D book covers from when I was a kid. However, I obviously can remember 3D movies (Shark Boy and Lava Girl introduced me to at-home 3D). Yes, I'll admit to that. 3D book covers truly sound fascinating, though.

  1. Catie said...:

    Wow a lot of thought went into that cover, I don't remember any 3D book covers but that would have been cool.

  1. erin said...:

    Thanks for the great post and cover! I'm a bit of a cover whore, so I agree completely!


  1. Fiza said...:

    Great post and how interesting.

  1. Wall said...:

    Interesting how you came up with the covers. I think my husband things a lot like that. Very detail oriented.

  1. Kelly said...:

    I love a good book cover! Who doesn't? I've noticed that while browsing at the library, it tends to be the book cover that grabs my eye. I don't really recall seeing any 3-D covers, but I'm sure they would be inspiring!

  1. I think it is amazing the amount of thought put into the covers! I don't recall ever seeing a 3-D book cover before- I am sure it would have stopped me in my tracks.

  1. Daniel M said...:

    just found your site, like the cover! - regnod(at)yahoo(d0t)com

  1. Brionna said...:

    Thank you so much for taking the time out to give us a little information about your work!



  1. Wow, it's amazing that there was such time and effort put into your covers. I'm impressed! I can get pretty obsessed with book covers too :)
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  1. I completely understand how hard it is to make art and make it just right--it takes a lot out of you and hours just pass by. But the ending result is fantastic, just like these covers! :) They are awesome!!

  1. Tanya said...:

    Very neat to hear how you were inspired at such a young age and it stuck. I love 3D covers. Thanks for the giveaway!

  1. Unknown said...:

    I look book covers - they are what typically really pull me in to read the book :)

  1. A'lina said...:

    Very interesting post! Lots of hard work put into the cover:) I like adventure stories so I'll be looking more into this series.

    Thanks for the author post and giveaway!

  1. Unknown said...:

    The book cover is what first attracts me to a new book so it's great that so much thought went into this one. Also the idea of a 3d cover really intrigues me as I've never seen one before

  1. Unknown said...:
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  1. Unknown said...:

    I love this one 3D artest, he took the 3D look to a whole new level which made you guessing on what the picture is showing you. Great guest post!

  1. andieleah said...:

    Wow never seen a3D cover before

  1. Unknown said...:

    I've seen more and more 3d covers pop up and they all look incredible! Great post :)

  1. Melissa said...:

    Very interesting! Thanks for the giveaway!

    bookcrazy124 at gmail dot com

  1. Wow! You really spent quite some time on perfecting you book cover. Thanks for the giveaway! :0)


  1. Angy said...:

    Thank you for the giveaway

  1. Hi folks. Thanks for all the comments. I loved reading them. I recently finished Book Four's final edit and it is going off to print. So I will release both books three and four within 3 months, beating my publishing goal by 4 months. Re-reading the series has brought home how fantastic it really is. I still can't believe I wrote the thing. I cannot wait to hear more comments from all those who bought book one.
    Remember: reviews are the bread and butter of all writers. Most readers don't write reviews. Help an independent prove his books are not like the rest. Give me a review when you're done. Be honest.

    Thanks again everybody.