Lex Trent Cover Revealed!

Lex Trent versus The Gods

Yes, the Lex Trent front cover is finally here in all its swashbuckling glory, courtesy of illustrator David Wyatt (http://www.david.wyatt.btinternet.co.uk) and designer Nick Venables at Headline, who have both done an amazing job. It is, quite clearly, very different from my Gollancz covers, for the simple reason that this is a very different type of book, but I am every bit as pleased with it.

This cover is the most literal interpretation of a book that I’ve ever had, and when my editor first mentioned having Lex himself on it, I wasn’t too sure. I didn’t think an artist would be able to get him right. Lex, after all, exists only in my head, and as I cannot draw to save my life, there’s no way of getting him out of there to show the artist what he looks like. But as it turns out, the Lex on the cover is exactly the way he appears in my head. The fact that you can’t see his face properly helps with that, I suppose, but everything else – the way he’s standing, what he’s wearing – is spot on.

Lady Luck – the blonde woman rocking the white toga – is also perfect. It’s almost as if Mr Wyatt really did reach into my head and pull the characters out. Because Lex and Lady Luck have been done so well, it’s a real thrill for me to see an image of something that actually takes place in the book.

I’m extremely pleased with the font as well because if Lex were to sign his own name, it absolutely would be with a flourish like that. Having a front cover always makes the book seem more real, and legitimises it in my own head so that I can think: ‘yeah, it’s a proper book, and I wrote it!’ rather than: ‘this is meaningless drivel that no one but me will ever read.’ And now that the book has such an awesome front cover I am looking forward to it finally being out on the book shelves even more than I was before.

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Call Me Phileas Fogg

Thanks to the insatiable appetite my parents have always had for travelling, I have been well-travelled since about the age of six. By that time I had been trudging fairly extensively around the Far East as well as the usual places like Europe and America. And I have been thinking recently about how travelling has helped me as a writer. It might sound clichéd, but travelling really does broaden your horizons, and if you can do it from a young age, I think it’s even more useful.

I was a little kid when I went to Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia, and so it didn’t occur to me to think: these people look different, this food tastes different, the air smells different, am I happy about this? In many of the photos from these holidays I’m either sat on a filthy pavement cuddling a stray cat or sat on a filthy pavement reading a book. But I put the cats and books down for the sightseeing, obviously, even if I sometimes had to be forced to do so. I have seen the Great Wall of China, and the hieroglyphics in the tombs at the Valley of the Kings, and climbed the ruins in Chichen Itza. I’ve ridden on elephants and camels (although not at the same time, obviously); sat in a sled pulled by huskies (and even runaway huskies on one memorable occasion), and swam with dolphins. I’ve held giant snakes, fed giant tortoises, and had my sandwiches snatched away by monkeys (all right, so maybe I gave the monkey my sandwich because it tasted horrible and I didn’t wish to eat it). In the Far East I’ve been caught in a sudden downpouring of rain so heavy that you’re soaked within seconds, and I’ve walked out of air conditioning into heat so intense it feels like you’ve been smacked over the head with it. We have been swindled, robbed and tricked during our travels – which perhaps is no great surprise given the kinds of back street places we have been known to wander into. My parents are such seasoned travellers that they can now spot a scam a mile off. Not me, though. I’ll fall for any con going. In addition to this, I’ve seen the most beautiful crystal waters on beaches in the Caribbean, and soon got used to the jellyfish bobbing around in the sea on beaches in the United Arab Emirates.

From a very young age, my brother and I did everything on holiday that my parents did. There was none of this going to bed early crap; there was certainly none of this being carried or pushed in pushchairs nonsense (we knew we would have been laughed at if we had even suggested such a thing); and there were absolutely no Kidz Clubz (shudder), which I absolutely loathed, possibly because they did not allow me to sit quietly in a corner and read my book, but instead insisted that I participate in group games with the other children (although I do still have the cap I won in the coca cola drinking contest). I ended up in such a club just once in Jamaica only because my brother was so keen to go. There was a bit of an incident when I ran away at the first opportunity and, I’m happy to say, I’ve never seen the inside of one of these clubs since.

I have used locations from my holidays in both my Gollancz books, and I have drawn on my experiences from them for the Lex Trent books, even if only indirectly (although the midnight markets are created straight out of the night markets I visited in Hong Kong and China). I don’t ever remember a time when I was not well travelled, and I am extremely grateful to my parents for taking us to those places and giving us those experiences rather than molly-coddling us in some English-only hotel year after year. You don’t get a feel for the country if you never leave the private beach, after all. Better to intrepidly venture forth in search of adventure and new experiences and glory! Even if this does mean that somewhere along the line you may get scammed, or robbed; or find yourself horribly lost; or stranded in the middle of nowhere with a flat tyre; or bitten by a really huge bug; or, as in my brother’s case, have copious amounts of blood gushing out of your head on at least two occasions that I can think of. But that, perhaps, makes my parents sound a little more happy-go-lucky than they actually are. They did mop up the blood, after all, and they were only accidents. But, yeah, travelling is great, and all writers or aspiring writers should do it. Just try to avoid the blunt trauma to the head thing – especially when out on safari in the African wilderness surrounded by wild lions, because blood is much more difficult to clean up under those circumstances. And the lions dislike the screaming.

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