I am very excited to share the cover art for my upcoming novel, The Devil Whispered! My earliest experiences with noir science-fiction harken back to classics like Blade Runner and Neuromancer. A fair portion also stem from my time exploring the role-playing system Shadowrun, which also had a bit of a dark side to it. Growing up, me and a couple of my best friends would occasionally play by candlelight, losing ourselves completely in the shifting politics of corporate controlled megacities, mocking the mediocrity of wage slaves and dancing with the mysteries of the night, full of passion and violence (our characters, not us - at least as far as the violence was concerned).
When I imagine those cities of the future, I see the holographic advertisements lining the massive high risers, and the neon lights cutting through the smoky haze of the malnourished atmosphere. If there’s one really iconic representation of the feeling I get when I think about it, it’s the scene in Blade Runner where Decker wraps himself in a blanket and stands outside on his balcony in the rain. Sirens blare in the distance and floating cars are passing beneath him. Vangelis did the soundtrack for the movie, and the particular track that’s playing for that scene, Blade Runner Blues, hits a special place in my heart. There is a forlorn sadness to it all that really stuck with me throughout my life. Many times in my younger days (and sometimes even still), on particularly stormy nights, I would turn all the lights out, throw the track on repeat, and stare out the window trying to emulate the feeling. Without the flying cars it wasn’t quite as fulfilling, but it was as close as I could come.
All that is to say, that when I started thinking about the cover of my book, I really wanted to have some elements of that represented. I started searching the internet for images of rain, future, sci-fi, whatever I could think of. There is some fantastic art out there, but one picture in particular really struck me. It was an image called ‘Noir Night’ by an incredible artist from the Netherlands named Jugoslav Stankin. It depicted a woman facing a window in a loft apartment, staring out into a dark cityscape with the rain coming down outside.
I found Jugo’s email and messaged him to let him know I was writing a cyberpunk sci-fi noir novel and to ask if he’d be open to contract work. I didn’t get a response immediately, so I began reaching out to some other talented artists I’d discovered but it was difficult to let go of the idea of having such a perfect representation of that feeling I’d craved growing up. Fortunately, Jugo got back to me within a few days and he was interested in learning more about the project. Ultimately, we did a video conference to talk about the story, the idea, and what I was looking for exactly. As it turned out, I was pretty much looking for the exact image in Noir Night, and he was willing to re-create the piece for me with my main character at the window!
He made some other adjustments as well, like introducing the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, creating an image on the television screen that was appropriate for what’s happening in the story, and did an awesome job implementing my request to have the face of a nightmare vaguely staring back at the main character, Jacobi, from within the storm outside. I wanted it to be subtle, and I think he really nailed it, since you can look at the image and still miss it if you don’t know it’s there.
He was an absolute pleasure to work with, and put up with me through the revision - replacing furniture at my request and even restructuring the entire layout to accompany for the specific parameters of the book design. In the end, I was really satisfied with his work and hope to work with him down the road on additional novels.
One thing I learned from the process is that it’s really nice to collaborate with talented people who are professional and come through on their commitments. It freed me up to focus on writing during a time where every item off my list and out of my head really contributed to productivity. In any case, I hope you enjoy the image as much as I do. I don’t necessarily expect you to throw on Vangelis and stare at it for hours when it rains, but if you want to – I’ve included a link to the song on repeat. Please be sure to check out Jugo’s art at the link below, and follow his artist profile there if you like what you see.
Blade Runner Blues by Vangelis
Noir Night by Jugoslav Stankin