Author Articles: Blaine D. Arden talks cover artists and designers


With apologies to Larissa, this post turned out slightly different than initially agreed. This was supposed to be a cover reveal, but I more or less forgot that the cover would already be pretty much revealed the moment I set up the pre-order. This post is still about covers, though.


Ode to Cover Artists and Designers.

Aliens, Smith and Jones is my last re-release since I received my rights back from SMP, not counting ex-anthology shorts, and the last book I arranged a new cover for.

From the Old

I felt a little lost every time I was asked to fill out a cover art sheet. (Still feel that way, to be honest). The instructions were clear enough, but no matter how many covers I’d seen, I still had no clue how to turn the essence of my books into images. I wasn’t a designer.

All I could do was go through my story and try to find the scenes that spoke to me most, hoping the artist could work with that. And then I got to watch in amazement how these fabulous artists took my ideas, brought my characters to life, and turned my writerly rambling on cover art sheets into wonderful little master pieces. I mean, look at these. Aren’t they pretty?

Artists: Sylwia (Fifth Son), and Nathie Block (Forester 1/2, Aliens)

It was hard to say goodbye to these covers. Even though they are now retired, they still make me smile, and I am still so grateful for the artists’ creative input and hard work.

To the New

Re-covering these re-releases was, for me, the hardest part of republishing. Not just because I loved the original covers, but because I needed to come up with ideas for covers all over again. And with new covers, came new stumble blocks that made it even harder to fill out those cover art sheets.

  1. A) I wanted to keep the looks of the characters the same. This was especially important for The Fifth Son, because of the black and white illustrations that went with it.
  2. B) I didn’t want to end up with similar looking covers. That would sort of negate the idea of getting new covers. In my mind, at least.

These things, and going through my stories to see if there were other scenes, or anything really, that could be turned into evoking images, made it difficult for me to figure out what to do with the covers. Simoné was lovely to work with, and she managed to turn my shaky ideas into these wonderful covers that were just as beautiful as the first ones.

Artist: Simoné

Onto Aliens, Smith and Jones

For the original cover of Aliens, Smith and Jones (shown above), my idea came from a specific scene in the book. The setting was the street where Connor lived. A row of houses to one side, a brick wall with a couple of round, metal bins on the other side. I wanted Connor to stand outside, in front of his door, and Noah standing next to the bins, possibly holding one, keeping it from falling. And I wanted them to gaze at each other.

Well, to be honest, I had a different idea at first, something about showing both Connor and Noah in their own surroundings, but the publisher didn’t think that would work that well, design-wise. I was a bit disappointed at first, but they made the right call. I loved what Nathie had come up with. It seemed as suspenseful as I’d hoped, even if it didn’t scream sci-fi as much.

So, onto this new edition.

Where the other covers were all still drawn by the artist, I chose a different sort of cover design this time around by choosing Lou Harper as the designer. She’s done Oren’s Right as well, and, like her abovementioned colleagues, does some pretty amazing things all around.

Model choice is not such a big stumbling block when it comes to drawn covers, but finding models that fit my idea of Connor and Noah wasn’t all that easy. Apparently, my idea of gorgeous men isn’t all that commercial to begin with, and Lou nixed all my choices. Then again, I more or less nixed the model who ended up being Connor the moment Lou first showed him to me.

But, the more we searched, the more we discarded models, and, weirdly enough, the more the image of Connor returned in my mind. He was started to grow on me, which is the number one reason I ended up choosing him in the end. In comparison, Noah was mostly chosen for his lovely hair.

Aside from manipulating the models to turn them into Connor and Noah, she took my idea of putting a skyline in the background, and turned it into something so gorgeous, I’d gladly hang it on my wall, even without Connor and Noah in it.

Anyway… I think that’s enough rambling about cover artists from me, right? Without further ado, here is the new Aliens, Smith and Jones:

Artist: Lou Harper

Thank you to all the artists/designers who have brought my characters to life. You Rock!!!

Which cover artists/designers have brought your favourite characters to life?


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Pre-order at Amazon



“It’s not all about serving coffee and typing reports.”

Working for a secret organisation specialising in alien cover-ups, Connor Smith is no stranger to the abnormal or dangerous. His love life on the other hand… not so exciting. Until he reluctantly agrees to a blind date and meets the perfect bloke, Jason.

Things are finally falling into place for Connor, so of course that’s when he attracts an alien stalker.

Noah Jones, ex-alien, has been stranded on Earth and forced to live as a human since 1648. Alone and detached from the world around him, Noah has spent centuries observing and recording humankind. In all that time, he’s only experienced a connection with a human once… until he finds Connor.

Even knowing Connor is in a relationship, Noah can’t ignore their potential bond, or stay away.

While dealing with missing alien artefacts, a dangerous and shadowy group of collectors, and the ever-present Noah, Connor finds his orderly life crumbling around him. At least he still has the perfect boyfriend…

When Noah goes missing, Connor is forced to face the feelings growing between them and the mounting evidence that Jason isn’t who he says he is…


About the author

Blaine D. Arden is a purple-haired, forty-something author of queer romance mixed with fantasy, magic, and suspense who sings her way through life in platform boots. She is an EPIC Award winning author, and her scifi romance “Aliens, Smith and Jones” received an Honourable Mention in the Best Gay Sci-Fi/Fantasy category of the Rainbow Awards 2012.

Born and raised in Zutphen, the Netherlands, Blaine spent many hours of her sheltered youth reading, day dreaming, making up stories and acting them out with her Barbies. After seeing the film “An Early Frost” as a teen in the mid-eighties, an idealistic Blaine wanted to do away with the negativity surrounding homosexuality and strove to show the world how beautiful love between men could be. Our difference is our strength, is Blaine’s motto, and her stories are often set in worlds where gender fluidity and sexual diversity are accepted as is.

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