A conversation with Jack Lusted

As most of you know, in addition to writing books like Eleanor, I design book covers. I've had the good fortune of doing a number of covers for bestsellers like Hugh Howey (who just wrote this very kind post about my work) and Matthew Mather and A.G. Riddle (who also wrote a very kind post about my work), but I also get the wonderful opportunity to design covers for indie authors who are chugging away, on the verge of breaking out.

This week I finished designing a book cover that – in my biased and obviously skewed opinion – is maybe the best cover I've ever designed. It's for Oranje, the first novel in a sweeping science fiction series by Jack Lusted. The experience was a lot of fun from start to finish, and Jack sat down to talk to me afterward about how it went, from his perspective. 

Oranje, the first novel in Jack Lusted's September series.

Oranje, the first novel in Jack Lusted's September series.

What's Oranje about?

Jack Lusted.

Jack Lusted.

Oranje is the first book in a space opera science fiction series that is set a thousand years in the future. The region of September is in danger from an unknown threat that few know about – and the planet Oranje has been attacked, the population wiped out. The Curators, a group that control the Net (a galactic version of the current world wide web), must warn the rest of September about what is coming. 

However, the other nations – the Union of Nine and Arausio Republic – are on the brink of war and don't have the best of histories with the Curators. It is in this scenario that the book begins, and it follows the perspective of three people: One from the Curators, one from the Union Space Force and a governor of a world in the Arausio Republic. Their actions will decide the fate of September.

I love the concept – three small, personal stories set against this enormous backdrop. Now, here's something interesting – this is the second time we’ve worked together on a book cover for Oranje. What made you decide to start over?

The original cover for Oranje.

The original cover for Oranje.

It certainly wasn't because of the artwork, which was amazing as always. I decided I wanted it to be redone as I felt like I'd been too conservative before, that I'd gone for a more conventional cover for the wrong reasons, instead of going for the style I prefer more.

Which is a very bold, rich style for a science fiction story, I think. What inspired you to go with a non-traditional cover style for the series?

I love abstract and more minimalist covers. I feel they stand out more and have a much more unique feel to them. Settling for a cover which just has the usual shot of space or a spacecraft on it would have felt wrong. I wanted something different, and going for something non-traditional for the genre has given me that.

And I have to confess, as a book designer, that was absolutely wonderful to hear. I think it's every designer's dream that the author will reach high. I was so excited by the idea that I sent you seven or eight concepts for this book, and told you that I thought one of them was the best cover I’d ever designed. Did you know which cover I meant?

The ebook cover for Oranje.

The ebook cover for Oranje.

I did straight away. There were several great concepts in there, but this one stood out. It says a lot that very little changed between the initial concept and the final cover. It's a beautiful design.

What does this cover say to you? What do you think it will say to readers? 

This cover hints at the story, and the attack on the planet Oranje that kicks the whole series off, and shows that some monumental events are going on.

Do you think this cover will stand out among other science fiction novels? 

I think it would stand out against covers from any genre – but especially in science fiction, where things tend to be done in certain ways. I can't wait to see it on Amazon alongside other titles. I think it will definitely grab people's attention.

What’s the next project on your plate? 

I'm currently finishing up the edits on Oranje, which should be out in the new year. After that it's straight onto Book Two in the series, Choices, which I'm aiming to complete before the end of 2014.

Well, I can't wait to see the entire series completed and on my bookshelf. Thanks for taking some time today to chat about the project, Jack! If you're interested in keeping up with Jack's progress, you can visit his web site or follow him on Twitter.