“Writer, Seeker, Killer” is a philosophical thriller in three parts (novellas). In considering the cover art, I want to commission for one print cover in the dimensions of a 6x9 inch for JPEG, PNG, and PDF format (to Amazon & Createspace, pixel/ quality specifications). This is for the print edition, and so will be a front, back, and spine. Please read this entire brief, please.
Here I will attempt to provide in one line what I need this cover to be:
A surrealist New Orleans nightscape (as most of this story takes place outside of the French Quarter, keep in mind illustrating areas like the Bywater or Mid-City. Perhaps something disturbing to remain in the mind as a reminder of the uncertainty of existence as a totality. It needs to be professional (it needs to be an eye-catching work of art that will draw interested people further to read the book blurb and buy the book).
To that end, I want to have an illustration that embodies New Orleans as a backdrop for depictions of unspeakable horrors. In the context of the story, New Orleans as a setting plays heavily into the characters, plot, and theme, most notably as a location considered by many as a porous zone for spirits or ultra-dimensional entities & an infrastructure crumbling as a result of the failure of the War on Drugs. Thematically, the story centers around the question of, “Is there an underlying metaphysical substructure to the physical universe that we see? If so, how do we access it? Only through death, or can some drug reveal some of its characteristics in an apprehendable way? How do we reconcile the myriads horrors of in answering that first question, in unbounded eternity or a purely limiting physical existence of simply a body and brain set to 70-ish years on Earth?
So using the provided photographs of New Orleans as inspiration, I would like to see the following elements:
-The condition of structures that have not only suffered the beating that was Hurricane Katrina, but also remained in degradation and disrepair ten years after the fact.
-A motif of torn layers (an example of which is the wall showing the bricks) unveiled in a messy, ambiguous manner. Don’t flood the illustration with this motif, only have it appear with purpose.
-The way the moon has cast its light upon the clouds. Perhaps an unrealistic, abstracted quality of an undulating sky as flooded water.
-Some kind of graffiti, as my main character is a graffiti artist uses the medium to medicate suicidal thoughts.
I would also like to see this illustration with an augmented element of surrealism, in particular inspired by depictions of unspeakable horrors and autonomous entities that aren’t there, but are, in the case of hallucinations and suicidal/ high people seeing their despair and struggle manifested. Here’s is a link with some examples of what I am talking about: https://psychonautwiki.org/wiki/Uns…le_horrors
Zdzisław Beksiński is my favorite surrealist artist in those examples.
After the preliminary sketches are done and I have selected the finalists, I will be providing text for the back cover, the book blurb & about the author section to be arranged on top of your illustration. The spine shall have the title “Writer, Seeker, Killer” the author name, Ryan Starbloak, and the publishing emblem centered on the bottom of the spine (which will be provided upon finalist selection). I would like you to choose the fonts/ arrangements/ style of the title, author name, and back cover text (obviously something legible and common for this one) so that you can better assimilate it with your illustration. In doing so, keep in mind that the genre of this book is a psychological/ philosophical thriller. Some well-known examples that influenced the work include Requiem For A Dream, Muholland Drive, and A Scanner Darkly. Also, be prepared to leave a blank space in the right corner of the back cover for the ISBN barcode. All fonts will be sourced and packages in the final files.
Included is a singular excerpt that I feel captures both the mood and tone of the story:
The stillness was such a deception in her mind. There was so much happening within her, had she not been only moments away from self-immolation? Then there was the matter of the city she resided in. All around her, people struggled in mounting misery. Murders, rape, and theft, things beyond her imagining even worse. Yet where she stood in front of her apartment building, there were only parked cars on street carved up by elements common to this region. The streetlights spilled out onto the sidewalks sloppily, two the six she could see were out. In the wake of the train, such a nostalgic fixture for Hinanya, she desired only to survey New Orleans in a way she had never been able to as a child: how, when, and where she pleased.
The most peculiar thing to Hinanya was how accurate her theory had been back in Minnesota. Hinanya was subject to periodic lashings out, mental ripples and thoughts which exacerbated to the point of relief via an expiration of life. These episodes frequented her starting in the drawl farmlands where her family had retreated to following Hurricane Katrina. When envisioning the environment of New Orleans, the anticipation of going there and meeting her purposes, she was likewise balked from doing irreparable harm to herself. Something about the peace of Minnesota did not sit with her. It seemed… genuine. Not at all where she belonged.
No, this was better suited for her, because even though properties of silence were the same absence of noise wherever one went, New Orleans had a nightscape of which its placidity was only a fantasy. Around any corner Hinanya turned could come another, meaning to subjugate her. The further she paced from her apartment, the closer some life clung to a drug for subsistence. And it was that feeling of suspended peril in waiting which gave the girl her senses and will back, a gift to be cherished.
The occurrence where Hinanya’s mind focused into death and all associated wonderments were all classified to her under a single phrase known as the awful rush, so described for the propensity for her mind to give her a psychosomatic motion sickness wherein all five of her senses were thrown off and if standing she was compelled to hunch over, to be off of her feet in favor of holding onto herself as her mind proceeded to travel at speed she could not fathom. The burden of the awful rush had piloted Hinanya to New Orleans, after all. There was no apparent trigger, and worst of all knowledge of Hinanya’s experiences were confined to her alone. No matter how unbearable her awful rushes became, she waited each of them out, unsure if one of them would finally end her, only certain that it must be kept, managed, and solved by her own devices or not at all.
The city she took in seemed to be pushing against itself, wild vegetation grew unimpeded on the front lawns of abandoned houses where spray-painted signs warned squatters away with references to poisons spread throughout the domicile. She found herself in the Bywater, a gentrified district whose edges were carved by the Mississippi River. Though a mostly African American population, cheap rent attracted all types of people, particularly artists and transplants who’d started coming in droves with the influx of volunteers looking to help the city after Hurricane Katrina was done. Some of them never left.
The destruction and decay of New Orleans appealed to Haniya. Walking down a neighborhood in the Bywater, some houses were in good repair, some were built from scratch after Katrina, and some were still abandoned and untouched after the storm had hit. Of those in the last category, some would be repaired soon, and some Hinanya thought some parts of New Orleans would never be repaired…”
“New Orleans; our lady of perpetual sirens. The glittering menace that smiled through sharp teeth barred with squishing liquor ready to swallow more than it intended to keep down.”
"Some horrors were unspeakable, but none were unthinkable. Yet those horrors, ecstasies, and emotions were all human, not limited to any single individual. That was what anchored her through the worst of it."
"At some points it was unbearable. Minutes pasted like days, in realms of thought seemingly esoteric as her scalp seemed to peel back when she heard the first whispers of the supposed autonomous entities. As she fought against their stature as higher intelligences, she slashed away at their malevolence with her blade of rationality, in a boundless chamber of radiant stones, only to balk once she found those other entities to be herself. That she, in fighting herself, only hurt herself. The chamber she was in was no longer there.
Gradually, the high rose on a slope to that point of climax, but reaching it felt untenable to Hinanya. That point of leaving herself. Ascension, if only temporary. She didn’t want it, the sensation was too much. But she’d taken the 8IL and there was no off-switch. There was only riding it off, no matter how much she wanted to die in those moments. After devoting her life to the possession of this, she found herself unable to cope with certain aspects of it. 8IL, was, perhaps, not manufactured for her. A fractured and demented mind that, without the use of illicit substances by all rights should have been institutionalized by now.
The high of an already ill temperament and of a well-adjusted individual was the difference between the drizzle outside of Hinanya’s window and Hurricane Katrina itself.
No matter how much she used her thoughts to cast away the notion that she was surrounded by other entities, that it was merely a sophisticated reflection of her subconscious she could not tell herself she was alone in that room. Her mind brought that to her attention, but wasn’t she her mind? Could she just ask herself?
Hinanya vomited shortly after that, as those two questions yielded dozens of others, ones she asked to the others only to be laughed at in some alien language."