Cover Reveal: DRAGONBOY
It’s cover reveal day at Mixed-Up Files, and we’re thrilled to share the cover for DRAGONBOY, by debut author Megan Reyes, illustrated by Ilse Gort and designed by Sylvia Bi.
Plus, an extra treat: Megan has shared a sneak-peek excerpt JUST for our fabulous MUF readers.
Okay …. here we go …. the cover for DRAGONBOY:
Smile. Okay, this isn’t QUITE the cover. Not yet … but soon!! And I promise it’s AMAZING and worth the wait. Just a minute or two longer…
When we do a cover reveal here at Mixed-Up Files, before we show you the art, we love the chance to hear from the wonderful creators who turn an author’s themes and characters into covers that will lure readers to pick up the book. For DRAGONBOY, that illustrator is Ilse Gort.
Meet Ilse Gort
MUF: How did you decide which story elements to focus on for this cover?
IG: I was given some suggestions and guidelines for what to put on the cover, such as the thread and the tree which I thought were sensible choices. The author (Megan) had put together a very helpful Pinterest board with example covers that she liked so that I had some idea of the styles and elements she wanted portrayed. The publisher also provided me with the book’s manuscript which I read in full to gain a better understanding of the characters, their emotions and the core of the story. Based on this I wanted to include all of the main characters in such a way that there was no clear hierarchy of importance, since they’re all integral to the story, but I did want to center Blue for the sake of the book’s title (Dragonboy) and also because I felt he is the book’s main sell as a fantasty tale. I also really wanted to try and include the fox character, who caught my eye as an interesting anchor throughout the story and, in my own interpretation, was a representation of sorts of the author herself. Lastly, I was quite set on the cover featuring a sunrise. Knowing that this is the first in a series that seemed like a fitting choice; the dawning of a new adventure.
MUF: Which elements did you enjoy working with the most?
IG: Honestly, all of them! I very much enjoyed each element in its own right and for its own reasons and I was happy to see them come together so well.
MUF: What is your artistic process for cover art?
IG: It depends a bit on the client of course, but typically I will start by discussing the basic needs for the cover such as the genre, core elements and layout preferences so that I know what is expected of me and I can make an estimate of the amount of work it will be. Then if all the necessary agreements are made, I begin doing my research. If I have a manuscript or audiobook sample this is typically when I will begin reading or listening. I will gather reference materials and inspiration, then begin sketching. Typically I will provide at least two and up to four sketches for the client to choose from. When they’ve made their choice and given me any necessary feedback I continue with a color mock-up, meaning I roughly paint in the colors so that I can show the client where I intend to take the final illustration. And when that is approved, I move on to actually finishing the piece and implementing any last feedback the client may have.
MUF: What do you enjoy about illustrating cover artwork in general?
IG: One of the things I enjoy about cover illustration for books is that there is so much depth to it. It’s challenging in a very fun way to think about intruiging narratives, hints at story elements, how to spark curiosity and elicit emotional reactions in (potential) readers. There is so much you can do with a book cover and it’s so important to do it well. I love to read and have much respect for writers, fellow artists in their own trade, and I know how difficult creative work is to do professionally. I also know that the phrase “judging a book by its cover” exists for a reason; people dooften judge books by their covers and authors place a lot of trust in an illustrator’s hands (or a publisher’s) to represent the core of their story, all of that hard work, in a single image. The collaborative nature of book covers make them unique as far as marketing art goes and it’s why it’s one of my favorite things to do.
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The Cover Reveal
And now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for … drum roll …. the real cover for DRAGONBOY, by debut author Megan Reyes.
Isn’t it gorgeous???
This timeless fantasy debut follows four children–a boy turned dragon, his reluctant dragon rider, a runaway witch,
and a young soldier—bound together by the Fates themselves to save their world—and magic itself—from
The world once known as Haven has been torn apart over centuries of conflict, with humans taught to fear all things magical, dragons driven to near extinction, and magic under attack. Now its future rests with four children from four different lands, destined to restore balance to their fractured world—as the song foretells.
Blue, River, Wren, and Shenli all grew up on different sides of a war they didn’t start, and each will be called forward
for what will become pivotal roles in the battle to restore the balance between humans, dragons, and magic. They
will face shocking secrets and terrifying dangers and discover surprising strengths as they begin to forge a
friendship across barriers put in place long ago.
Read on for an excerpt of DRAGONBOY just after our interview with Megan!
Meet Megan Reyes
MUF: Tell us about the characters we see in this beautiful cover art.
MR: Yay, I’m so happy to introduce you to them! My story has four main characters, each with their own POV chapters, and I’m so thrilled they all made it onto the cover.
Blue is a stable boy who is later transformed into a dragon in order to save the world.
River is a (very reluctant!) dragon rider, who happens to be super afraid of heights. River is incredibly clever, confident, and tends to take things a bit too seriously.
Wren is kind, curious, and… a little clumsy sometimes. She’s a magic human who is supposed to be bound to her Magic companion (note the little purple cloud of light on the cover), but she forgets the words to the binding spell, and her Magic runs away!
Shenli is a Mainlander (a direct enemy of Wren’s people) who is taught to hate all things magic and dragons. He’s 50% charming, 50% cranky, and his family seems to be saddled with never-ending bad luck.
MUF: This is such a lovely cover – did you get to weigh in on any of these details?
MR: I know, isn’t it stunning? Ilse did such a beautiful job and I am in love with it! And, yes, I had quite a bit of input, which was wonderful. My design team asked for ideas, and the first thing I said was that it was important to me that all 4 of my characters made it on the cover. I received 3 different cover sketches then it was whittled down to the favorite. I gave a lot of input into how the characters look and what other things might be included from the story (like the fox, tree, and golden thread). There were several rounds of revisions before the final and I got to see–and weigh in on–each one. It was such an incredible process. I’m lucky to have such a fantastic, supportive team at Random House.
MUF: Is there one element of this illustration that stands out in particular for you as the author or that resonates with favorite parts of your story?
MR: Heroes of Havensong is a series and book 1 is called Dragonboy, so I love how predominantly Blue the dragon is featured. There is a scene from the book where Blue and River are flying for the first time and River spots this strange golden thread floating through the sky. She reaches up to grab it, and… well, you’ll have to read to find out what happens! 🙂 I also love how Wren and Shenli are side by side. They are natural-born enemies who are forced to work together. I think the cover shows a bit of their “we’ll-work-together-but-we-don’t-trust-each-other” relationship. Lastly, there is a fox character who narrates things throughout the book (you meet him right away in chapter 1). He’s one of my favorite characters and I’m so thrilled he made it on the cover!
MUF: Thanks so much for sharing your cover reveal with us!
And now, MUF is thrilled to share our exclusive chance to sample just a bit of what lies behind this gorgeous cover.
Excerpt from DRAGONBOY:
Every twenty-five years, the king of Gerbera is eaten by a dragon.
It is tradition.
What’s that, young one? No, I imagine it isn’t very pleasant, but what else is the human king to do? He has his honor to uphold, after all. And a deal’s a deal. One king every quarter century, and in exchange, the dragons leave the villages of Gerbera well enough alone.
That’s the way it’s always been. For nearly a thousand years.
No, I am not that old. You mind your tongue, kit. Before I toss you to the shadow bears for breakfast.
Of course I’m joking.
Your mother would be furious with me.
Why do the dragons want kings? How should I know? Maybe they taste better than ordinary humans. Leave it to dragons to be so particular. And, no, I don’t know why they wait twenty-five years. Maybe that’s when a human is ripe? I don’t care to think about it too much, if you don’t mind. Now hold still while I get this twig untangled from your fur.
Ah, well, the humans have no choice, you see. They must keep the peace with the fire beasts. They’ve nowhere else to go. Beyond their forest is Dragon Mountain, and that’s where the world ends.
Everyone knows that.
Besides, humans are not as clever as foxes, dear. But don’t hold that against them. They do their best. Oof, stop squirming about, would you? I’ve almost got the blasted twig free.
What’s that? Where do they get the new king? Perhaps they grow kings like carrots. My whiskers, you ask so many questions. You are giving me a headache.
Fine. Fine. You may ask one more. If you must.
What would happen if a king didn’t present himself to the dragons?
Whiskers of mercy! I pale to think of it. Our forest stretches to the base of Dragon Mountain, after all. The fury of the dragonfire would surely be the end of everyone.
No, youngling. Do not fret. You have nothing to fear. Don’t you see? The human king always comes, just as he should. It has forever been thus.
He gives his life to save us all.
Now sleep, little one. If you’re quiet enough, you can hear the moon rise.
Preorder a SIGNED copy with fun book swag from A Seat at the Table Books: https://aseatatthetablebooks.org/item/ymASTSSKIbYnzxuyJGXC-Q
Preorder wherever books are sold : https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/695558/heroes-of-havensong-dragonboy-by-megan-reyes/
⭐️ NetGalley requests: https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/261717
⭐️ Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60111451-dragonboy
Megan Reyes is the author of the Heroes of Havensong series for young readers. Megan lives in Northern California with her husband, four sons, two dogs, and an ever-growing collection of dragon and fox figurines. When she’s not writing, she’s probably drawing, painting, going on walks, or getting lost in a new book.
Stay in Touch
Twitter and Instagram: @MReyesWrites