The US cover for I Am Not a Serial Killer was an interesting experiment–a kind of YA-ish cover for what is being marketed as an adult thriller. I like it a lot, and I like it more every time I see it. I consider that experiment: successful.
My only concern about the first cover was that I had no idea how they would follow it up–how they would manage to be different and new while still following the same style. The basic elements were very, very basic: plain white background, big block letters, and the title in big block letters. How do you do that again, while still managing to do something different? Tor designer Peter Lutjen did it via “being awesome.”
The Mr. Monster cover took all of the basic elements and made them simpler and starker. Instead of a lined notebook page we have a plain white piece of paper; instead of a jagged gouge we have sharp slices; instead of a fat, round pencil we have a thin, deadly pocketknife. The result is both cleaner and more frightening, with just enough shadow and texture to pop off the page and look really incredible.
So what about the third book? I recently announced the official title as I Don’t Want to Kill You, but I hadn’t seen the cover until today. Tor.com put up an article, written by Peter Lutjen himself, detailing the clever, tactile, violent process of creating the covers, including a series of process shots and sample ideas for book 3. I found his process fascinating; he really got into the spirit of the books, stepping away from the computer to pull out the weapons and get his hands dirty. His design article includes phrases like “I spent some time digging a trench with an X-Acto knife,” and “I temporarily disabled the smoke detector.” This is a man after my own heart.
The article flirts with a couple of spoilers, but doesn’t actually spoil anything real; if anything, his vague hints about the different manners of death in Book 3 will only tantalize you further. The mock-up sample with blood running into a drain made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The cover they chose, though, of a piece of paper scorched and blackened, was absolutely perfect. Even if you think you know what it means, I guarantee that you don’t.