When we wrote the first Crimson Keep story, “Demon Circle,” we really didn’t know what we were getting into. That’s because, up until Kevin Dilmore provided the opening line at our Crazy 8 panel on the first day of that ShoreLeave when we were going to be writing the story on-site in round-robin fashion, we didn’t have any idea how the story was even going to start, let alone where it was going to go. We didn’t know what kind of story it was, what genre it would be in, what the tone would be, any of that. It was only as we wrote that we figured all of that out—the story grew from author to author, developing itself under our fingers, until by the end we had a fully formed fantasy tale.
Then we had to come up with a cover.
Glenn took care of the first one, and the image was evocative if a little dark for such a goofy story. When we went back into that world and each wrote our own stories there, then collected all of those plus “Demon Circle” in the original Tales of the Crimson Keep, he built that cover as well. And you can tell at first glance that this is a collection of fantasy stories.
What you can’t tell is that they’re fun, and even funny, rather than dark and serious. This isn’t grim and bloody fantasy, it’s much lighter than that.
Which is why, when we decided to go back in and revise and expand and re-release the anthology—now with a new story by our newest C8 member, Mary Fan, plus an all-new round-robin story by all eight of us—I suggested that we would need an all-new and completely different cover.
Bob, Russ, and I discussed our requirements. “Think light-hearted,” I suggested. “Robert Asprin’s Myth Adventures series. John DeChancie’s Castle Perilous series. Heck, Piers Anthony’s Xanth series! The cover needs to say ‘fantasy’ but it also needs to say ‘fun.’”
Bob talked to our artist, Ty Templeton, and Ty did up some sketches. He sent us six of them, including one that he didn’t think would actually work because it was too busy.
I loved it. “That’s the one,” I said. “It looks like M.C. Escher meets Monty Python.”
Ty said okay, he’d give it a shot. And when he sent in the final, all three of us felt that it was perfect.
I think you can agree that now, when you pick up Tales of The Crimson Keep, you know that you’re definitely getting fantasy stories but you’re also in for a whole lot of fun. Almost as much fun as we had writing them.
Tales of the Crimson Keep – Newly Renovated Edition will be available in August.