An artist collaboration in any form is not an easy thing to accomplish. Artists have different schedules, different temperaments and, above all, different creative visions. As an independent author, I collaborate with talented cover designer Johnny Breeze on my book covers. Our goal is to get on the same page so that we might get on with the chapters and reach THE END with something eye-catching, outstanding and, since I write mainly in the horror genre, horrifying.

Currently I’m collaborating with Johnny on The Dark Menace, my latest work in progress. Here’s a short synopsis:

Mysterious and terrifying attacks by the Shadow People and the Hat Man lead a nightmare-plagued man to suspect an enigmatic doctor has accidentally opened a portal to hell.

Here’s a long synopsis:

Noah Janzen is plagued by nightmares and numerous sleep disorders; night terrors, sleepwalking, sleep talking, and a terrifying sleep paralysis that often invokes chilling images of the Shadow People and the Hat Man.

Determined not to let his nocturnal demons interfere with his successful career and newly formed relationship with Angela Rosewood, he meets her in a local pub. But when he sees a shadowy figure wearing a fedora and a trench coat eerily watching him through a window, he freaks out and battens down the hatches.

He soon learns that a hat-wearing psycho has viciously attacked Angela, smashing in her door, trashing her apartment, and nearly killing her. Worse still, Angela suspects Noah has morphed into a conduit for evil and starts distancing herself from him. She might even think he is the Hat Man.

Desperate to save his new relationship and find answers, he seeks the aid of physicist and sleep specialist, Doctor Neil Samuelson. While remaining tight-lipped on his experiments involving the Shadow People and the Hat Man, the enigmatic doctor informs Noah that an old woman has been brutally murdered at the hands of The Dark Menace.

As blood-curdling reports of Shadow People and the Hat Man escalate, Noah suspects Neil has accidentally opened up a portal from another dimension, unleashing a torrent of evil shadowy entities, hell-bent on terrorizing and destroying humanity.

He’s thrust into an epic battle to preserve his relationship and sanity and find answers to a strange and mysterious real-life phenomenon that has haunted and terrorized thousands of people around the world for centuries.

I’m fortunate that Johnny and I both possess minds that are visually oriented. We can generally get on the same page quickly. When I write novels, I take some time to visualize the scene in my mind before putting pen to paper. Before I send Johnny my vision for a cover concept, I search out images to reflect my vision and send them to him, along with a short cover vision synopsis. Usually, when I nail the vision, Johnny nails the cover and produces something amazing. But when I miss the vision, Johnny generally misses the cover. Of course, he’s just trying to incorporate my vision and add his creative talent to it, so if I don’t get it right I can hardly blame him.

That’s what happened on the first go-around for The Dark Menace. I only envisioned the Hat Man, also referred to as The Dark Menace, standing idly with a sword in his hands—his red glowing eyes staring at you threateningly. The result was a rather bland image.

I quickly realized this and called Johnny as often a short conversation will create a unity of vision. He offered some suggestions and we came up with a totally new and much better cover concept. I sent him an email to convey the new cover concept and to remind him of what we had discussed. He’s a very busy artist so I wanted him have something to fall back on when he decided to get creative with The Dark Menace.

Below is an excerpt from the email:

Possibly red for the author and book name, which matches the eyes of the Hat Man.

Hat Man upper torso clearly defined; his bottom half black and wispy, apparition-like, as you’ve done a bit in the first cover concept.

Machete or sword not needed.

Eerie graveyard scene with perhaps a few tombstones, skulls and bones. Maybe a red glow surrounding the Hat Man image that makes him stand out.

Clearly defined lines on Hat Man and Hat Man eyes. Gaucho style hat.

Maybe a full moon in the background. Maybe not. I like wild skull-like images.

Maybe the Hat Man has his arms outstretched in sort of an enveloping embrace.

I like your idea about predominant colors being black and blue and maybe gray as opposed to my original fiery background.

The Dark Menace image you see in this blog post represents my first failed vision. Playing around one day, I even doctored it up a bit. But trust me, I was just having fun. I’m not a graphic artist. I don’t mess with Johnny’s creations as far as a hands-on tampering with the image is concerned. I only offer suggestions. He has the creative license. He has the creative genius.

Expect something truly remarkable when the real cover finally emerges. Stay tuned and have an awesome day.