Today I am very excited to welcome J.P. Barnaby and cover artist Sam from AngstyG.  They are here to talk to us a little more about J.P.’s new book Aaron and the fabulous cover Sam has created.  They have sent lots of fabulous pictures as well (and just click on them to view them larger).   Welcome guys! 

So J.P, can you start us off by telling us a little bit about your new book Aaron

Aaron is the story of a teenage boy, physically and psychologically traumatized, who finds every last vestige of strength he has to get his life back.

From the back cover:

I can’t describe what it’s like to want to scream every minute of every day.

Two years after a terrifying night of pain destroyed his normal teenage existence, Aaron Downing still clings to the hope that one day, he will be a fully functional human being. But his life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear. When, in his very first semester of college, he’s assigned Spencer Thomas as a partner for his programming project, Aaron decides that maybe “normal” is overrated. If he could just learn to control his fear, that could be enough for him to find his footing again.

With his parents’ talk of institutionalizing him—of sacrificing him for the sake of his brothers’ stability—Aaron becomes desperate to find a way to cope with his psychological damage or even fake normalcy. Can his new shrink control his own demons long enough to treat Aaron, or will he only deepen the damage?

Desperate to understand his attraction for Spencer, Aaron holds on to his sanity with both hands as it threatens to spin out of control.

Now my regular readers know I am crazy about a good book cover and so I was so excited to see the gorgeous cover for Aaron.  And this one is a bit unusual, definitely not your typical stock image.  Can you tell us more about the original picture and what made you choose it?  

Copyright: Cockboys

Final Cover

Aaron has been in my head for two years, whispering about monsters in the dark. When I would close my eyes and try to picture him, I saw this tiny boy with black hair and fathomless blue eyes. He had a vulnerability that I never thought I’d be able to capture on a cover, until I saw a tweet one day from Cockyboys announcing their newest exclusive.

As soon as I saw that very first image of Jake Bass, I knew he was Aaron. So, I contacted Jake Jaxson at Cockyboys and asked if I could license an image of his beautiful model for the cover of my book. I also spoke to Jake Bass about it to make sure he was comfortable with being on the cover. He was delighted.

I received four images from Cockyboys as examples. They offered to do a shoot just for the cover, but the one of the images they sent me was so perfect, they didn’t need to bother with a shoot. I sent that image to my cover artist, Sam, who also did the covers for Papi and Mastering the Ride. She removed his tatts (because of his trauma, Aaron would avoid pain including tattoos), drew in the scar, and made a few other minor modifications.

Obviously the picture has been adapted to turn it into a book cover.  Was there something specific you were looking for out of the cover design? A particular look you wanted to capture or feeling you wanted to convey?

This is the third cover Sam and I have worked on together. She also designed my website and does all of my printed material. I trust her to look at the images, get a feel for the book, and create an absolutely stunning design. She’s done that with all three covers to this point. But really, she outdid herself with Aaron. I’ve been in love with that cover since the very first proofs. I’m very lucky to have her with me.

Now I’d like to turn the questions over to Sam.  First off, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background? How did you get into designing covers among your other projects?

I’ve been making websites and doing promotional graphics for almost nine years now, and I’ve made a lot of wonderful friends over my years writing fanfiction. Many of these friends have gone on to publish original novels. I can’t bear to see anyone with a bad cover (really, it hurts my soul), let alone a good friend, so I’d often offer to work something up for them. Eventually, I remembered I was poor and should probably be making money off of it…

Can you tell us a little bit about the process you use when designing a cover? What kinds of information do you want from an author?  How do you begin to take those ideas and turn them into an image?

The less the author requests, the better the covers usually turn out. JP is a wonderful client in this regard. She sends me a photo of her model and tells me what general tone she’s looking for and any physical accuracies that must be met, and then lets me run with it. Most authors realize and appreciate the importance of creative freedom, I think.

In JP’s case, because she has so many, I can also give her covers a common thread and homogenize their styles while still respecting the individuality of each cover model and the characters they represent. The covers I’ve done for JP are very tactile and vibrant, which matches her brand. Her website, her promotional items, her logo, they all have these threads.

My goal is for someone to see one of JP’s books covers and know immediately it’s hers.

So for the Aaron cover specifically, can you tell us more about the design process and what you did to turn the photograph into a cover?
Obviously Jake Bass is obnoxiously attractive and I was pretty much jumping for the chance to put him onto anything (“I think you may need coffee mugs, JP…”) , so if anything I had to tone him down a notch or ten.

I was all, “Be less hot, Jake!” And he was like, “Nah.” And I was all, “Well… all right, that’s cool.”

Here’s a whole walkthrough I made for the creation of the cover, complete with embarrassing torso sketch attempts: (Remember, click to make it big so you can see the amazing job Sam did here! Once it opens in a new window you may need to click again with the little magnifying glass to make it big enough to read. This is a riot so definitely read it all…)

Other than the Aaron cover, can you tell us about some of the other book-related projects you have done?

Aside from JP, my good pal Angel Lawson, author of Wraith, FanGirl, and the soon to be released Serial Summer, is my other little authorial branding project. I do her websites, promotional and marketing graphics, book covers, and my newly available skill, book formatting. If it has her name on it, I’ve probably had a hand in how it looks. Actually, I won’t let her do things without me. I’ll just strongarm myself into her email and demand she use this thing I’ve made to match her website or book cover. Her brand is my baby… or that baby I kidnapped and occasionally allow the real parent to come and visit.

I currently have three other covers soon to be released, and have done websites for authors such as Con Riley, Leora Stark, Rowan Speedwell, Tia Fielding, NK Kingston, and Shira Anthony.

If readers want to learn more about you or your work, where can they find you?

Prices for all my author-related services are right on my website, I’m also available on Twitter @AngstyG, or can be reached via email at


About J. P. Barnaby

As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.





Three signed copies of Aaron are up for grabs – make sure to enter the Goodreads giveaway by October 15th:

(Giveaway open to US residents only. If you’re outside of the US and would like a signed bookmark from Aaron, please request one from 

Thank you again so much to both J.P. and Sam for stopping by today to talk to us more about this gorgeous cover.  It was great talking to you guys! And be sure to check out the rest of the stops on the Aaron Blog Tour!  

FILED UNDER: Giveaway, Interview