The next chapter of Scott Westerfeld's alternate World War I series comes out next month, and we've got an exclusive piece of amazing artwork from illustrator Keith Thompson. Plus an essay from Westerfeld, explaining how this artwork came to be.

Behold the full wonderment of a biological airship arriving at Hearst's California mansion, along with Westerfeld's essay, below...

My illustrator, Keith Thompson, and I have been working on the Leviathan trilogy for three years now, so we've fallen into a certain rhythm. Every four chapters or so, I send Keith my latest text in rough draft form. I may have it in my head what scenes should be illustrated, but I send the chapters without comment. Keith has a read and a think, and then we exchange a few emails about what will be the most dramatic, useful, or simply spectacular moments to show the reader.

Another issue is how to show each scene. Shall we go full-page? Half-page? Or should we stretch across two pages? (And if we do that, how do we keep the good stuff out of the "gutter"?) Here's an example from Chapter 22 of Goliath, the upcoming third book in the series.

The Leviathan, a living airship made form the life threads of a whale, has just arrived in San Simeon, California. On its way to New York, our heroes aboard the airship are paying a call to newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. Keith and I wanted to show Hearst's cliffside mansion, which he's converting to motion picture studios, in scale with the thousand-foot Leviathan.


Since this is a landscape image, we decided to stretch across the tops of two pages. Keith delivered this sketch complete with fake text, so we see what it looks like on the page:

Now that we both have a sense of how this image works, with Hearst's mansion on one page and the airship on the other (and the dreaded gutter in between), I tell Keith to forge ahead to the final version:

As you can see, Keith has provided extra pixels stretching out both left and right, so the illustration bleeds off the page, no matter how the art director finally positions it.


We try to have an illustration for every chapter (8-10 pages long) and some chapters wind up with two or three. The first book in the series, Leviathan, had 50 images, and the second, Behemoth, had 55. I'm pleased that the third and final book in the series, Goliath, will break the record with 57 illustrations, including the usual color end-papers. It comes out September 20 this year.