Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dragon Shield Tour Visit With Dianne Gardner

Editor's Note: I am very excited to present a stop on Dianne Gardner's Dragon Shield Tour, presented by the wonderful folks at Jitterbug PR! To get you started, I'll share the trailer for Dragon Shield, and then we're featuring a brand new guest post from Dianne. She's an extremely talented author and artist, and we definitely encourage you to check her work out. She has some excellent titles out on Hydra Publications!
-Stephen Zimmer

First of all, thank you Stephen Zimmer and SSP for having me on your blog! What an honor.

I asked Stephen what he’d like my guest post to be about and this was his response:

"I would like to know how you select the right image to portray to represent a title as a whole. What goes into the composition to reflect the theme of the book?"

I’ve done the cover of all my novels as well as my short stories. I’ve also created a few book covers as commission work for other writers, and that is a completely different ball game, by the way, because usually the writer has their own idea of what they like their cover to look like.

So I’m going to talk about my own covers.

As a side note, may I add here that my painting style is impressionism, which is different than what you typically see for fantasy. That’s just the way I paint.

In Deception Peak, the story is about Ian and his dad entering this awesome Realm. It’s an absolutely beautiful place. That is until they near the mountain where sorcery separates the two and Ian’s father is lost in the caves. The ominous presence of the mountain, the dragon’s lair, is the title for the book, and of course a mountain needed to be on the cover. Not just any mountain either. It’s described as having tall slate pillars, blackened from lightning and desolate cliffs. It reeks of danger the closer you get to the peaks.

I kept the colors surrounding the mountain grays and teal, complimented by the orange hues of the foothills and along the shoreline where the Meneks live. That cover was fairly simple to design.

As far as the dragon on The Dragon Shield Cover, you need to know that painting was actually painted before the book was written. It did, in fact, inspire the series. As The Dragon Shield came closer to publication I realized that the story was more about a shield than it is about the dragon.

And I just happened to have a real shield! The gentleman who played Alex in the trailer actually made the shield that he carries in the short film. It’s a replica of the one that Alex gave to Ian in the book—the one with the rubies. I was thrilled to have it and I’ll bring it to book signings with me, by the way!

I had to put the image of that shield on my cover, even though it isn’t the magical Dragon targe that the children made. Still, Ian’s shield plays a big role in the story. The magical shield would, in fact have been too busy for the book cover.

Since the trilogy book covers are actually part of a triptych (a 9 ft 3 panel oil painting) they had their own unique process of becoming reality. The Four Wizard book covers are a little different and I think I can explain what Stephen is asking for a little better by using those for an example.

We have four individual wizards; all are patriarchs of a different part of the Realm, all with their own unique stories, and yet all related in some way. Silvio and the old tree stump have a connection. And without giving the story away, I wanted the reader to know that the tree stump is an extremely important part of not just Silvio’s story, but the Realm’s as well. Of course, Deception Peak is in the background of that book cover.

Meneka’s was a fun cover to do. He’s the dragon wizard, and I think you’ll find that his story has a fascinating twist as to why the Meneks worship the dragon. I choose one of the most climatic parts of the story, put a little artistic license to it (he’s not really on the beach when he performs this act but I wanted the beach in the painting because the water plays an important part in the story). His cover is brighter with the red dragon. Meneka is a fiery personality!

The most important scene in the story Kaempie was when he sacrificed his powers to the Northern Winds. It is the turning point for the entire history of the Realm. It was a stormy evening, the wind was blowing, and he was afraid. Those were the elements I wanted to convey in the title. Whether they work or not, or draw the reader in, you’ll have to tell me.

The final short story, which was just published, is the story of the wizard Reuben. This painting was actually a plein air sunset painting I did last summer with a few alterations. The story of Reuben is a romance. Reuben being rowed to the Island of Refuge by two gypsies while he longs for his true love is the scene portrayed here. I thought about doing a little more with the romance aspect in the painting, but I didn’t want to give the story away.

To me a good cover suggests the atmosphere of the story, and draws the-would be reader in, just like a hook would in the first line of your book. You cover is seen even before your first line. But you don’t want to tell your viewer everything…just a taste.

I hope mine have that effect.

Thanks for asking Stephen. I hope it answers some of your questions!

Synopsis of Dragon Shield

Ian's Realm: The Dragon Shield
Available Now at

As a young man, Ian returns to the Realm to fight against the tyranny that has befallen his friends. But the Realm is a different place, the forest is dying, the Kaermperns have lost the shield that protected them from the dragon, and Ian has a hard time proving his allegiance when trouble follows him through the portal. His struggle to do right buries him in confusion, and he must fight his own will to prove his integrity.

Be sure to connect with Dianne at the following social media links:


Hydra Publications link

Facebook Ian's Realm link

Twitter @DianneGardner


  1. Thank you so much for hosting me! It's a thrill to be on SSP's website! I'm honored!

  2. Cool! I really enjoyed learning more about how you designed those gorgeous covers.

  3. I have a Kickstarter campaign for Ian’s Realm going right now until April 13 if anyone is interested. Don’t know if I can post the link here but it’s on my blog and website. There are some deals on the books, some posters and original artwork available.