As some of you may know, I’ve been wrestling with the cover for Crude Sunlight ever since I decided to publish it. On one hand I’m fairly adept at photo manipulation and montage through Photoshop, yet on the other I actually have very little skill in actually creating visual art. Which leaves me able to create striking covers by placing effects on shots, but not actually able to truly create a cover from scratch.

Why has this been a problem? Because Crude Sunlight is a complex, subtle novel. It’s a tale of psychological horror set in abandoned buildings in Buffalo, NYC, and thus striking the right tone and creating something that is both visually arresting and conveys the mood of the novel has proved to be a huge headache. My first attempt was the following:

The idea behind this one was a grungy, dismal wall with rays of golden sunlight splashed across it, hinting perhaps at a sewer grate just above and out of sight, with a subtle splash of blood to indicate that all is not as it should be. However, it lacks a true focal point, and thus ends up looking like a vague, excrement splattered wall.

Not what I was going for.

So I thought: let’s ramp this up! Let’s get a little dramatic, a little intense, and convey the horror aspect a little more forcefully. The result?

A modern, intense take, but one that overshoots the mark. Gone is the subtlety, replaced instead by a modern, movie poster like feel that misrepresents the novel. This cover lasted but a few days before I reverted, unhappily, to the first.

However! Yesterday I discovered a beautiful shot of an abandoned stairwell online, and after a brief but felicitous exchange with the artist, I received permission to use the shot as my cover. Here it is:

I love it. What do you guys think?