Showing posts with label Costi Gurgu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Costi Gurgu. Show all posts

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Author’s Night: Three Authors…Three Stories…

Nina beams beside Vali Gurgu and Costi Gurgu with Trilogy
It was a dark and stormy night… and no one cared because inside we were having a marvellous time, drinking, eating, and discussing matters literary and epic.

It was author’s night in The Beaches with three very different authors celebrating their works and sharing them with an avid and diverse crowd of bibliophiles, graphic designers, screenwriters, writers and musicians of Toronto’s eclectic artistic community. 

eager bibliophiles find the wine and some choice seats
And what better place to celebrate diversity in literature than in The Beaches, a bohemian community of funk and glam in Toronto’s East end. Dominated by tree-lined streets and turn of the Century Victorian/Edwardian houses turned into niche-style shops and cafes, The Beaches embraces paradox (the artist’s talisman) from its location—on the magnificent beach of Lake Ontario—and its laid-back post-hippy lifestyle to the sophistication of its commercial community and services. The venue for our Author’s Night (on Boardwalk Drive) combined spacious posh and high ceilings with the warmth of colour and comfortable chairs you’d sink into for the duration.

Glasses charged with fine wine and taste buds titillated with homemade cookies and savouries, the audience settled into those chairs ready for a treat.

Nina Munteanu

I was celebrating the completion and release this month of the final book (Metaverse) of my science fiction metaphysical thriller The Splintered Universe. Celebrating with me was the artist who created the covers of the trilogy, Costi Gurgu, and his wife Vali. Costi is himself a celebrated award-winning author from Romania. Vali Gurgu—the model for Rhea Hawke—is the artistic director for a major Toronto magazine. I was so happy to see some of my UofT and George Brown students in attendance too!

Metaverse concludes the metaphysical journey of detective Rhea Hawke, a complex heroine on a quest for justice in a shape-shifting universe of intrigue and paradox.  Rhea Hawke’s unlawful quest throws her into a treacherous storm of politics, conspiracy and self-discovery. The Splintered Universe is a high-paced thriller with a mystery of cosmic proportions that explores the nature of the universe and paranormal phenomena such as multi-dimensionality, clairvoyance, quantum entanglement, morphic resonance and synchronicity. Rhea Hawke's story is one of a soul's heroic journey "home". And home isn't what you might think it is!

Merridy Cox Bradley

Merridy Cox Bradley
Merridy Cox Bradley had just released her annotated e-book of Part 1 (Beasts) of Frank Finn’s charming and deliciously entertaining Edwardian book “Pets and How to Keep Them”. Here’s an Amazon review: “This charming Edwardian book on pets and how to keep them…is now wonderfully annotated with delicious historical and up-to-date material by editor Merridy Cox Bradley…This would have certainly been a book that Downton Abbey’s Lord Grantham would have consulted on matters to do with his yellow lab, Isis, or Mrs. Patmore on her chicken-filching cat.”

Merridy read some wonderful excerpts of the book and added some interesting context. Here’s an excerpt: “It is obvious that a Wild Cat cannot afford to be so particular about wetting its feet as a tame one is, so that the feline aversion to wet may be an acquired and civilized taste.”

Nina Darrell

Nina Darrell read excerpts from her inspirational book Dancing in the Streets: Stories to Inspire,
Nina Darrell
Guide and Transform Your Spiritual Life
. The titles of chapters are as interesting as their contents. Here are some: Paying Attention to the Weird and the Strange; Flying Trees; the Mysterious Gardner…

“We are living in an age of spirit, and spirit’s desire is to inspire, guide and transform every life,” says Nina Darrell. Her accounts and anecdotes of synchronicity and life-symbols provide a spiritual landscape for discovery. The collection explores the language of spirit toward a connection to the divine.


Three very different authors; three very different stories—a diverse, eclectic audience. What an evening!

Participants discuss quantum mechanics and angels
By the end of the evening, I found that we were all using the same language that embraced observation, communication, inspiration, and transformation. My story of shape-shifting and heroic transcendence was not so different from Nina Darrell’s story collection of spiritual observation and transformation. Merridy’s account of connection between animal and human was not so different from my broken hero’s journey of finding connection with other beings not human. Not so surprising; because story is universal and speaks through metaphor on topics of the human condition and what we value, what we strive to be or fear. The other. The unknown. The misunderstood. The wonder. The awesome. The soul’s journey home. The universal metaphors began to morph into a braided stream of common language and thought that settled into a warm pool of resonating chaos.

Or was it the wine?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Beware of Rhea Hawke...

She's on a Quest...
An Unlawful Quest...

Chakra: Heart; emotional release
Viewpoint: Looking inward
Journey: Transformation
Identity: Rebel
Archetype: Warrior
Second Archetype: Wanderer
Triptych: Present

Set your mobi-calendars for more on May 4th, 2014...

On 12 / 04 / 14 Get Rhea Hawke...But Beware...

artwork & design by Costi Gurgu

Friday, February 28, 2014

Get Rhea Hawke...

She's on the move...
She's dangerous...

Chakra: Base, ground spirit...
Viewpoint: Looking outward...
Journey: Separation...
Entity: Human...
Identity: Cop...
Archetype: Orphan...
Second Archetype: Warrior...
Triptych: Past (mistakes)

Set your mobi-calenders for more on April 4, 2014.

On 12 / 04 / 14 Get Rhea Hawke ...

artwork & design by Costi Gurgu

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Inner Diverse by Nina Munteanu released by Starfire

Full cover art for "Inner Diverse" Book 2 of trilogy

Book Two of Nina Munteanu's Splintered Universe Trilogy, "Inner Diverse" was released today by Starfire World Syndicate with cover art done by Costi Gurgu.

In Book Two of this metaphysical space thriller trilogy, detective Rhea Hawke continues her quest for truth and justice in a world that is not what it seems. Rhea's relentless search takes her to the far reaches of the known universe from the treacherous Boiling Seas of the Weeping Mountains of Horus to the blistering deserts of Upsilon 3. Amidst the turmoil of an imminent extra-galactic war, Rhea holds the key even as those she trusts betray her. No one is what they seem in this fast paced second of three books.
“Nina Munteanu is not only a master of metaphor, she is a creator of fantastic worlds and cultures. She combines her biological background with the infinite possibilities of the cosmos and turns an adventure story into a wonderland of alien rabbit holes. When the action starts it goes into hyper-drive, and her protagonist, Rhea Hawke, is a fresh and multi-faceted heroine.   A fascinating and enthralling read.”—   Craig H. Bowlsby, author of Horth in Killing Reach and creator of Commander’s Log.
“Hawke is a maverick in the Wild West tradition, up against the world; and a genetic mystery with lethal powers. As always, Munteanu sticks to science in her storytelling, and clips along a brisk pace.”—Lynda Williams, author of the Okal Rel series. 
"Am supposed to be recording some pick ups today and working on some accents for three of the audiobooks I'm finishing up but instead I get myself sucked into book two of Nina Munteanu's Splintered Universe trilogy!"—Dawn Harvey, voice artist.
Full cover art for "Outer Diverse" Book 1 of trilogy
For more on Costi Gurgu, the impeccable artist of the Splintered Universe Trilogy, see my previous interview with him here on The Alien Next Door.

Here's a short excerpt below on his Triptych design for the trilogy:

SFgirl: you came up with a “Triptych” design for the Splintered Universe Trilogy. What inspired you to come up with it and what do you like about it?

Costi: There is the danger of spoilers in this answer. The fact is that your main character, Rhea, undergoes a certain evolution from a regular human being to… let’s just say something else. And that evolution has three parts, one for each book of the trilogy and it also has a touch of divine. So, the triptych design, so often used for religious paintings, fits like a glove on the entire concept.

Costi was nominated as a finalist the Aurora Prix Award, Canada's top award for works in the genre of the fantastic, in the category of Best Artist for his work on Book 1 of the trilogy, Outer Diverse

Friday, March 16, 2012

Nominate for Artistic Achievement in the Auroros

You have until March 31, 2012 to nominate eligible works by Canadian artists (writers, fine artists and creative fans) in the publishing of science fiction, fantasy and horror. If you are a Canadian, please consider nominating your fellow Canadian artists.

It might be a little late to nominate written works you haven't yet read. But the advantage of the ARTISTIC ACHIEVEMENT category is that you just have to look at the artwork to make your choice.

So, here are the eligible artworks of five Canadian artists and cover designers who are currently eligible for an Aurora Award for ARTISTIC ACHIEVEMENT. Pick and NOMINATE!

Blaine, Janice. Cover of Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine, Issue 20

Bridgman, Rae. Interior illustrations for Kingdom of Trolls. (Sybertooth) February 2011.

Choi, Connie. Cover art for The Black Box. (Sybertooth) February 2011.

Dales, Evan. The cover art for Shadow of Death: Book Two of The Chosen Chronicles and the covers for the reissues of Changeling: Prelude to the Chosen Chronicles (May 2011) and Angel of Death: Book One of the Chosen Chronicles (May 2011) published by Dark Dragon Publishing

Laframboise, Michèle, Otaku Ladies, a cyberpunk Webcomic, since January 2011

Gurgu, Costi. Cover art for Outer Diverse (Starfire World Syndicate) October 2011. You can read a revealing interview of Costi and the process of creating cover design right here on The Alien Next Door.
Now, go nominate!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Costi Gurgu Interview and the Auroras

full cover art for Outer Diverse
 When I first met Costi and Vali Gurgu at the World Fantasy Convention in Montreal several years ago, I had no idea that Costi would end up creating the stunning book covers for my latest Splintered Universe Trilogy or that his gorgeous wife, Vali, would serve as the model for the hero of my story, the relentless and steely detective, RHEA HAWKE. You can find his cover art and other artworks on Costi’s illustration site.

I recently had a chance to invite Costi aboard my intelligent ship, Benny, orbiting the Earth. After settling in the aft lounge with some pockta juice, we began the interview:

Nina: Hi, Costi. Thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview.

Costi Gurgu
 Costi: Hi, Nina. The pleasure is mine.

Nina: You came up with a “Triptych” design for the Splintered Universe Trilogy. What inspired you to come up with it and what do you like about it?

Costi: There is the danger of spoilers in this answer. The fact is that your main character, Rhea, undergoes a certain evolution from a regular human being to… let’s just say something else. And that evolution has three parts, one for each book of the trilogy and it also has a touch of divine. So, the triptych design, so often used for religious paintings, fits like a glove on the entire concept.

Nina: Ooh! Neat! Where can I get a copy? … (grin) … Your design for Outer Diverse (and designs for the other two covers) carries a powerful image that conjures a portal or gateway into another world (which is what the trilogy is about). The reader is drawn into an infinite landscape, looking in, and Rhea is looking out. Can you tell us a little about how you conceived this compelling design. Is there a meaning behind the symbols and colours you used?

front cover design for Outer Diverse
 Costi: To be honest, the initial idea was for the red ring to be a sort of mapping device and a radar combined into one, since Rhea travels great distances in her quest. Then I realized it might as well be a portal device on top of everything else and serve all her travelling needs.

There were two options —either we would look with her outside, to whatever target she had, or look towards her. I thought that it would be more powerful if we could look towards her and see her determined face, see the unflinching resolution in her eyes, while she’s pondering her next move and readying herself to use the device once again. But to look towards her and see her in a confining room of a space ship, or such, would have defeated the purpose. So I needed to have her against the infinite landscape as the backdrop. She is in a continuous journey to discover herself and this journey takes her literally through the infinite spaces of not just one universe.

Nina: Yes, I love the metaphoric elements you’ve woven into the design. The image speaks to us on many levels. Do you use music or other devices in your work to evoke your creativity? What other tools did you use to create the stunning cover of Outer Diverse (e.g., animation software, etc.)?

Costi: I’m always listening to music while working. The kind of music varies depending on what I’m working on. If I’m writing for instance, I need instrumental music, without words to influence my own ones. Also, it depends on the kind of feeling and mood I try to generate through my writing or my illustration. Music helps me channel those feelings into the right words or imagery.

Vali Gurgu as RHEA HAWKE
 Technically speaking, I always start with sketches on paper, which I later scan. I mainly use Adobe Photoshop, but for this illustration I had to use Adobe Illustrator as well. Obviously, the layout and the typography were done in Adobe InDesign.

Nina: Your wife, Vali, was the model for Rhea Hawke. I understand you had a great time doing the photo-shoot (p.s., some of the additional shoots can be seen in the Youtube book trailer). I’ve attended several launches and events lately (e.g., Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and Bucharest) and both the cover and the model have been extolled. One reader compared Vali to actress Catherine Zeta Jones. How does Vali feel about being somewhat of a celebrity?

Costi: I’m so happy to hear that. You know, I had to decide how to treat her image. I could have gone towards a more glamorous, shiny look, like in a fashion image, or I could just simply keep it more realistic. Despite Vali’s protests, I chose to keep it that way, because I wanted to offer a realistic image of an ex-police officer: a woman who was used to fighting and chasing criminals, rather than taking care of her appearances. Now, to hear that her rougher and tougher image created that kind of reaction gives me a sort of peace and satisfaction.

As for the celebrity thing, so far we only heard that from you. Not that we don’t believe you! We’ll see when it really happens in her presence. It’s always a good feeling to taste a little bit of celebrity now and then. It certainly gives one purpose and perspective. Not to mention hope.

Costi Gurgu cover art
 Nina: You and Vali have had rich and varied careers in commercial art, law and writing. You’ve served, for instance, as art director for several high-end magazines including Playboy, and you taught graphic design at the college level. Can you tell me a little about your journey from Romania to England and finally to Toronto, Canada. Did the law degree help you in your entrepreneurial pursuits?

Costi: Well, yes, ironically the law degree took us places. We both loved studying law. It had a unique way of opening our eyes to culture, civilization and the importance of continuously learning. Yet, while we loved studying law, we hated practicing it. After our first year of articling in Bucharest’ Law Bar Association, we didn’t like what we were doing, but more importantly, we didn’t like the people we were turning into.

Therefore, we decided to change tracks and try something a bit different. We left for England, hoping we’d get into some Master degree in Maritime Law. So, here we are, at “Open Day” at Westminster College in London. We’d enrolled for some English classes and saw a crowd at one of the Graphic Design Program tables. Some Photoshop wizard was doing a demonstration. For our untrained eye it was absolutely wonderful! We started asking questions and the “wizard” encouraged us to take his class. I don’t remember what it was called, “Digital Manipulation” or something. We replied that we’re there for Law studies, so he said—well, why don’t you take my class just for fun? So, we did and by the end of the semester we enrolled for the Graphic Design Certificate and forgot everything about Maritime Law or any other kind of Law. We’d just discovered the wonderful world of design, illustration, art direction and photography!

Costi Gurgu cover art
 Nina: That’s COOL! Did you pursue illustration and design in England?

Costi: Well, three years later saw us going back to Romania; our families expected us to go back to the Bar Association and behave responsibly. But after showing my portfolio around I got a designer job at Playboy Magazine! The Art Director and I launched its first Romanian edition issue a few months later. Three years later I became the Creative Director of MediaPro Group, the largest publishing company in Romania and Vali took on the position of Art Director of Playboy Magazine.

Two years later we came to Canada to pursue a dream. So, yes, I could say that my law degree created the perfect opportunity for me to discover my passions for visual arts. It took me to England and eventually to Canada. Life is funny that way.

Nina: Does Vali help you with your work and do you help her with hers?

brooding RHEA HAWKE
Costi: We help each other a lot in our work. Because we worked together in our first legal job and after that in our first design job, we have become a team. We have different approaches to the art process and we have different styles. I went deeper into illustration to complement my design skills, while she chose photography to do that.

Even now, for the most important projects we have for our different employers we involve each other not only for need of feedback, but also for need of different ideas and fresh approaches. We basically complement each other.

Not to mention that she’s always my first reader for any piece of fiction I write. She’s the toughest reader I have but in the same time I know she’s also the most sincere one.

Nina: Name some artists and their cover designs that you like and why. How would you describe your own artwork (e.g., magazine and book covers)? Who are your influences?

Costi: Where should I begin? I always loved the paintings of Rene Magritte and Giorgio de Chirico. I also have to mention Dali and H.R. Giger. They’re just incredibly good and inspirational.

I can’t miss Neville Brody, one of the most famous and brilliant designers of all time. Not too many book covers, but you have to look for his music album covers and typography compositions, and magazine covers. He’s done a lot of covers for the legendary The Face Magazine. You have to see the book The Graphic Language of Neville Brody. Absolutely beautiful.

Special mention goes to Edward Gorey. His art is amazing.

From the usual suspects of SF&F artists, I like Michael Whelan, especially his horror covers. See for instance Lovecraft’s Nightmare, both parts, or some of his personal studies. I like Frank Frazetta and Rodney Matthews. And there are others, many others, the list would be just too long for the purpose of this interview.

 Nina: Costi, your artwork on Outer Diverse is eligible in the Art Category for an Aurora Prix and the Hugo, the Canadian and American prizes for work in the science fiction and fantasy fields, respectively. How does that make you feel?

Costi: I try not to get my hopes too high. It’s a long way from eligibility to winning. But just to be in the game really feels good. From another perspective, it’s part of my dream coming true. It’s part of my journey and the reason I’m here. It’s so good to be noticed and to exist outside your family’s and friends’ awareness.

Nina: Speaking of…when I was in Bucharest recently to launch my fiction writing textbook at the Gaudeamus Book Fair, I heard a lot about this guy Costi Gurgu, a rather well known and accomplished writer in Romania. You’ve sold five books and over forty short stories in Romania and won over twenty awards. Tell me about this guy, Costi the writer. What have you written and where can we find it?

RHEA HAWKE on the hunt
 Costi: In truth, half of my reason for coming to Canada is related to my writing.

I made my debut in Romania, in 1993 and since then I published constantly in magazines and anthologies. I edited three anthologies. I won each and every award there was in Romania, several times. Among those, I won the prestigious Vladimir Colin Award twice (for my first story collection and for my first novel), and the Writers Union Award (a literary award) for the debut for my first book, a story collection entitled The Glass Plague.

My stories have been published in Romania, Hungary, Poland, Denmark, England, Canada and USA.

My latest sales have been to the Danish anthology Creatures of Glass and Light, the Daw Books anthology Ages of Wonder, Wildside Press anthology The Science Fiction Megapack, Millennium Books steampunk anthology The Second Revolution, and the anthology Voices—New Writers from Toronto, published by Co-op Writers and Toronto Public Library.

Nina: What are you working on now—besides more covers for my Splintered Universe Trilogy, that is?

Costi: A few months ago I launched my latest book in Romania, another story collection, entitled Chronicles from the End of the Earth. I’m working on the English version of some of the stories in that collection.

Right now I’m writing a horror story for an anthology from Romania. I’m also in the middle of my new novel, for which I don’t even have a working title. All I know for now is that it has magic and it has science and some bits of dark happenings, so it will probably be a cross-genre. It is also supposed to be the first book of my first trilogy.

I’m thinking of a comedy movie script for next year. I’ve never tried a movie script, but I’d really like to write one.

Nina: Sounds like fun, Costi! With your sense of humor, it should be a great success. Thanks so much for joining us here on Benny. I wish you the best of luck in the Auroras and the Hugos and in all your writing and illustration projects. It’s been an honor to work with you.

Costi: Again, my pleasure, Nina. And thanks for the Plockta nectar. It was … eh … interesting.

…See? He’s so polite!

Costi Gurgu
 If you love art and agree with me that Costi’s stunning artwork on Outer Diverse merits recognition, please share this post with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and elsewhere.

Better yet, NOMINATE Costi for the PRIX AURORA in the “Best Artist” category (if you’re a Canadian). You have until March 31st to nominate.

Just as good, RECOMMEND his exemplary cover art for a HUGO AWARD in the category of “Best Professional Artist”. Third Party Sites where you can recommend Costi’s cover art include: Live Journal Community; NESFA, and SF Awards Watch.

If you’re already a member of the World Science Fiction Convention, you can NOMINATE Costi for a HUGO. You have until March 11 to nominate.

Outer Diverse is for sale at,, and Barnes & Noble as well as other quality bookstores near you. It is also eligible for an Aurora. The Splintered Universe trilogy follows the turbulent career of galactic guardian Rhea Hawke, whose unswerving passion for justice though faulty vision of the world collide in ways unimaginable as she searches for answers to a spiritual massacre. Visit this page for more details about the trilogy.

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Trailer for "Outer Diverse"

Check it out! It's BOSS!

And go nominate Costi Gurgu for the Aurora Prix Award for Best cover art. He deserves it! You can nominate him on the Aurora site starting January 1, 2012, when the nominations open. Looks like you have to be a member to nominate. Used to be ANY Canadian could nominate works for the Aurora. I might have my information wrong, so go check out the site on January 1st to nominate Costi for his splendid artwork to produce the cover of Outer Diverse.