In Hatchet , 13-year-old Brian Robeson learned to survive alone in the Canadian wilderness, armed only with his hatchet.
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I’m so excited to finally reveal the cover of Joseph Bruchac’s latest speculative fiction book for teens, Killer of Enemies, which comes out in September. For the Killer of Enemies cover, I wanted to be sure we saw how awesome (and kind of terrifying) Lozen’s world was, and I wanted to be able to see her face. Isaac had already put together some concepts for the cover using stock photos (as you can see, not a lot of diversity in the available stock), so what we needed was to find the accessories that would create the look of the concept we decided to go with. Part of what made the shoot work was getting to meet the model and her mother for the costume fittings before the shoot ever began.
We scheduled the shoot to coincide with that magical time of the day when the sun is setting and blanketing the world in soft, golden light. If we packed up to drive somewhere else, we would’ve missed the great lighting, so we shot right there, on the banks of the temporary lake that had been formed by spring run off, even though we were smack in the middle of the desert. Jay Asher opened the session with a speech to everyone, in which he applauded that Libraries match the right book with the right teen. Our final author of the morning was Steve Hamilton, an author for adults who won an Alex Award — for adult books that appeal to teens.
After the authors visit the tables, it’s fun to watch the whole crazy crew get their pictures taken. Here’s a more focused picture of the stellar authors on the right side of the crowd having fun.
After the YA Coffee Klatch, I headed back to the Convention Center for more programs and, yes, more book signings. The book is post-apocalyptic Apache steampunk (well, steampunk-adjacent), about a monster-hunting teen who has some pretty awesome powers.

We needed a model who looked Native American (and as Apache as possible—though Lozen’s ancestry is a little mixed), and we wanted an action shot. Joleen is Navajo, and she has family and friends in the Native communities of Arizona and Utah. Through her, I got in touch with Natalie Billie, whose daughter, Raven-Sky, fit the look of Lozen perfectly.
Isaac found a few things online, but the best parts of Raven-Sky’s costume came because her mom found a few items at their Native community center. Once we had chosen our model, I worked up a sketch of potential costumes, got feedback from Stacy as well as from some concept illustrator friends of mine [as well as from the author, Joseph Bruchac—SW].
By the day of the shoot, we’d already met a few times, so it was easier to be relaxed around one another, which is one of the secrets of getting a natural performance from the model. The photographer, Stephen, had shot at the salt flats an hour or so west of Salt Lake City, and in sight of Wendover, NV, and he suggested that the terrain would work perfectly for post-apocalyptic world that Lozen lives in.
The photographer, Stephen, has had experience with action shots, so we were able to combine both those experiences. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. In this annual event, writers are challenged to complete a 50,000 word (or more) novel from November 1 to 11:59 PM on November 30. Brian's Winter begins where Hatchet might have ended: Brian is not rescued, but must build on his survival skills to face his deadliest enemy--a northern winter.
From the action adventure game Tomb Raider comes the strong and beautiful Lara Croft as an 8″ H Play Arts ~KAI~ action figure! Finding a stock photo that did everything we needed it to would be like finding a needle in a haystack.
Since my designer, Isaac Stewart, was located in Utah as well, I wondered if she knew anyone who might have a teen daughter who fit the description of Lozen. Isaac arranged to meet Raven-Sky and her mom, and they started to brainstorm about the look.

Lozen is a hunter, so it made sense that even though Apache women historically kept their hair loose, Lozen might pattern her look a little after the men of her community—who wants her hair getting into her eyes when she’s wrestling a porcupine-cat?
With the refined costume approved, I began combing clothing outlets looking for just the right pieces of clothing that would fit the bill.
In one of those previous meetings, my friend Daniel Hughes, who has worked shoots before, gave the model some great coaching that in turn helped on the day of the shoot. We arrived at the salt flats just in time for the perfect light, but instead of the white, cracked earth we were expecting the whole flats were covered in about three inches of water. We asked Lozen to run, jump, and move around pretending to shoot the replica guns in a dance similar to the gun katas of Equilibrium.
The dirt on her body and clothes have been realistically recreated to tell the tale of her fierce fight for survival on a desolate tropical island in her first, and most harrowing adventure.
We also wanted a slightly steampunkish look, because the technology of Lozen’s world has been driven back into the steam age. Some things we had to just buy new, like the goggles and the pistol replicas, and other things I borrowed, like the holsters and the black powder bag. We wanted a worn, lived-in look to the costume, so borrowing and buying used went a long way to help with that.
In the end, we had dozens of shots, which was great for variety, but made our job of picking the right cover image a lot harder! But guns still worked (that and her trusty Bowie knife) and we wanted to showcase how awesome a hero Lozen is.
For everything else, we relied on a little Photoshop magic to add the grunge and wear that wasn’t already there. When a deadly plague sweeps her home in a future-version of China, Cinder will stop at nothing to save her sister.

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