Colleen Houck

“I took hold of that scourge -filled ship and crushed it between my limbs, hurtling it into the second sun, the red one that gave me strength. But I was too late." Terraformer

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  • Let’s Talk the Tiger’s Dream Cover

    January 31, 2018

    I know you’ve been waiting…and waiting…and waiting…and Tiger’s Dream is finally just around the corner. So, on this blog post, I’m going to try to answer a few non-spoilery types of questions and talk about the brilliant cover too!

    First of all…Why The Wait?

    This is a fairly easy answer. My first imprint, Splinter, who published the rest of the tiger series, closed. What that means is, they are no longer purchasing new material to print. They are, however, still in the business of printing the other tiger books and continue to hold the rights to the series in the United States and Canada which made finishing the series doubly difficult. No other publisher wanted to pick up the last book in a series when someone else owned the others. Believe me when I say I tried. I really did. That left me with one option, self-publishing, which explains the cost of the paperback as well as why there isn’t a hardback, but I digress. That’s another blog post.

    Now the self-publishing of Tiger’s Dream is only true in the United States. In Brazil, China, and other countries that have purchased the tiger books, Tiger’s Dream will be printed in the usual manner.

    That explains the printing part, but now comes the waiting part. Because I signed a new contract with Delacorte to write the Reawakened series, I had to negotiate time between books to write Tiger’s Dream. It’s a slightly scary prospect for an author to begin an over 200,000 word project without a publisher attached. To that, all I have to say is…



    I ended up writing Tiger’s Dream between Reunited and The Lantern’s Ember. Since The Lantern’s Ember is still being released at the one year mark from Reunited, you can be certain that I rarely slept in 2016 or 2017.


    This means that while Ren and Kishan were my first loves, I finished Amon’s, Asten’s, and Ahmose’s series first. Hey there, that’s five swoonworthy young men. They would make the world’s most awesome boy band, don’t you think?

    Moving on…

    What’s Up With the Tiger’s Dream Cover?

    Funny you should ask. As you know, most of my covers don’t have actual people on the cover. The only ones that do are Tiger’s Promise and Tiger’s Dream. And there’s a reason for that which I’ll talk more about below. Of all my books, I have been able to choose the cover for three of them, Tiger’s Promise, Tiger’s Dream, and Reignited.


    Reignited was easy. I just had it matched to the other books in the series and told them to do a cool eyes, the goddesses at the bottom, and then chose the color palette. One really cool thing about the Reawakened covers is that the color of either the title or my name at the top indicates the color of the next book released in the series. This is a really pretty set when you look at all the covers.


    With Tiger’s Promise, I couldn’t put a magical creature on the cover since there weren’t any in the book. Except koi. There are koi fish on the cover, but not in a prominent place. Who’d pick up a book with a gaping mouthed koi fish on the cover? Besides, the story wasn’t about the koi, who make a comeback appearance in Tiger’s Dream by the way, it was about Yesubai. It felt wrong not to put her on the cover.

    Since the publisher, Splinter, wanted to focus on the eyes with each cover, I thought it fitting to emphasize Yesubai’s eyes. If you want to read more about the Tiger’s Promise cover and the symbolism behind it, you can read the BLOG POST I wrote about it a few years ago.

    When it came time to sketch out the Tiger’s Dream cover, I went back to the artist who did all the other tiger books, Cliff Nielsen. I told him about the book and he came up with some really cool designs.

    Early Designs for the Tiger’s Dream Cover

    We knew we wanted to match the other books so the first thing we came up with was a cover featuring Fanindra. I love the idea of that and seeing her on the cover would have been extremely beautiful. Ultimately I passed on that one since the book isn’t really about Fanindra even though Tiger’s Dream does explain Fanindra’s origins and does spotlight her in a cool way.

    The next cover image sprung entirely from Cliff’s imagination. I have spent far too many moments studying this piece and it is a work of art. I would have LOVED to have a finished image to keep in my collection. It’s a mashup of Fanindra and Kishan’s tiger side. It’s amazing! It was my hubby’s favorite and it was so hard saying no to this one.

    Finally, we took a look at Cliff’s drawing with people on the cover. Why people, you might wonder, instead of tigers? Firstly, I already have books with tigers on the covers. Also, I wanted to show readers that the curse has been broken, that they finally get to be men. Additionally, I wanted this book to be something very different from the rest.

    I chose this drawing and ended up with this amazing cover!

    Okay, But What About Those Models?

    You all have been asking me for years about who was my inspiration for Ren and Kishan. You send pictures, links, and pins for me to peruse and I have to tell you all straight up that I have NEVER found anyone, model or actor, who exactly fits the bill. But, because I chose to put Kishan and Anamika on the cover, I had to look through pages of models. I know. You’re thinking poor me! Yes, it’s one of the perks of the job. It’s research, I tell my hubby. Research! Now, move along. (Hubby narrows brows and backs away slowly)

    Now, where were we. Ah, models. So these two. Gorgeous, aren’t they? Once I described the characters of Kishan and Anamika, Cliff sent me a group of about twelve to fifteen male models to look through and both of us were immediately drawn to Sharif Dean. I believe Cliff put it best when he said that Sharif had the smolder. I agreed. It’s true that Sharif is Armenian/Italian and not Indian/Chinese but he was absolutely the best choice in the group.

    Here’s the picture that made me a believer. It was the arms…the abs…gah! No, I mean the eyes. Seriously, it was the eyes in the shot of him below in the white shirt. They were like my black tiger’s eyes staring back at me.

    And for those of you coming to the pre-launch party, you’ll get to meet him!

    You can follow Sharif on Twitter @Shar_Dean or check out his model profile on Model Mayhem.



    Anamika was much easier. There were several beautiful Indian women to choose from but I chose Ayushi Chhabra. She’s not only lovely but she seems to radiate power and confidence. A bit like Wonder Woman, I suppose.

    You can follow Ayushi on Instagram @ayushi_mehr or check out her model profile on Brand Model and Talent.

    What’s on the Cover?

    To help, I’ve made you a graphic to explain all the cool things about the cover.

    To tell you more is to give away too much of the book. Ooh except one I forgot. The light surrounding the amulet, just behind the sword symbolizes the theme for this book. I’ll give you a hint. Curse was the earth book, Quest was air, Voyage was water, and Destiny was fire. In Indian mythology there are five elements. You can look it up if you like. Also, if you recall, there were five pillars in the first temple Ren and Kelsey went to in Tiger’s Curse. One had been destroyed. A reread of the series is highly recommended before you start reading Tiger’s Dream.

    There you have it. If you have more questions regarding the Tiger’s Dream cover, you can either leave a comment on the blog post or you can ask on the

    Tiger’s Dream Q & A on Goodreads.

    Happy Reading!




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    Author Bio
    Colleen Houck

    New York Times Bestselling author Colleen Houck is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, paranormal, science fiction, and romance. When she's not busy writing, she likes to spend time chatting on the phone with one of her six siblings, watching plays, and shopping online. Colleen has lived in Arizona, Idaho, Utah, California, and North Carolina and is now permanently settled in Salem, Oregon with her husband and a huge assortment of plush tigers.