Last week I had the pleasure of attending the cover shoot of Kristen Callihan’s sixth Darkest London novel, Soulbound, releasing next year from Forever. Walking into my first cover shoot, I had a lot of questions. Would the hero and heroine be photographed together, as we’ve seen on her more recent book covers? Would it just be the heroine solo, like on the covers of Firelight and Moonglow? Or perhaps we’d see the first solo hero cover in the series? And if there was a hero, would he be without a shirt? Who mists these shirtless heroes? Or are they oiled? All very important questions, of course.
The shoot took place in a very nondescript building that Chris Rock and his bodyguards were casually standing in front of (I didn’t see him, but Kristen’s editor Alex Logan had a slightly awkward encounter. Apparently he was also having photos taken.). Because of course he was, this is New York.
Kristen knew just as much about the cover shoot as I did (this was her first, too!), and told me authors typically have little to no involvement in their cover designs, and she’s lucky to even be consulted before the covers are finalized. She told me that a general rule of thumb for authors is “If you want to complain about your cover, you have to approach it from a marketing standpoint,” and to always remember that a cover design is somebody’s work, and they spent hours creating it. For this Soulbound cover, she jokingly requested David Gandy, whom she envisioned at the book’s hero. Although they couldn’t get Gandy, the model they did hire definitely shared his dark features.
Upon arriving with Kristen and Alex, I met Forever’s art director Christine Foltzer, photographer Gene Mollica, his assistant Mike Moosbrugger and another photographer's assistant. And, of course, the model: Isac Fioravante.
There was no female model, only Isac, and he was depicting Kristen’s hero Adam, whose story readers have been eagerly awaiting. In Shadowdance, the latest Darket London story, Adam finds Mary after she was basically left for dead. Let me tell you, Isac definitely does Adam justice. I mean, just look at him:
He makes the chains look so heavy! (They weren't)
Editor Alex showing Isac how it's done
It was as if the romancelandia goddesses were smiling down on me that day, because Isac was photographed mostly shirtless, save for a few open shirt photos. But romance covers cannot survive on mantitty alone. There were prop tables filled with giant swords, chains, and other bits and pieces one might find if you cleaned out a medieval dungeon.
Swords, cuffs and other various props
The shirt went on ...
... and the giant sword came out!
Isac doesn’t just hop out of his clothes looking like this (I mean, he comes close). He had to manscape his face and chest and oftentimes models will do sets of pushups to swell up their pecs before a shoot. And finally, finally, I learned the answer to my mist or oil question: It’s mist, because oil is messy and you can apply mist from afar (as tempting as those abs may be, lets not forget that Isac is a human being and we should ask people before touching them). He was misted by another photographer’s assistant, who acted like she mists hot dude abs all day long like it ‘aint no big thing.
Watering the mantitty
I chatted with Isac after the shoot, and learned that in addition to being incredibly kind, he’s Brazilian and moved to NYC to attend business school and improve his English so he could return home and help with his family’s company. This little ol’ modeling thing is just a convenient way for Isac to pay rent. Also, yes, Isac is single. And his accent is hypnotizing. This was only Isac’s second or third book cover shoot, but he’s been in fashion spreads and was on the January 2012 cover of Men’s Health Brazil.
An appropriate response to being at this cover shoot — Kristen Callihan snapping some photos with her phone
It's really hard to act terrified of a prop when you're standing next to an intimidatingly attractive man
Alex Logan, Kristen Callihan and Christine Foltzer pose with Isac, who has his epic serious face on
Isac back in his street clothes after the shoot — that smile!
The photographer, assistants, art director and Isac all worked together like a well-misted machine. It was incredibly impressive and professional and I’m grateful they let me witness it. I can’t wait to see how the final cover turns out!
UPDATE: The Soulbound cover is done! Check it out: