“Jeffrey Ford is one of the greatest writers we have in this country right now, bar none.” I said that in an interview last year, and those words seem more and more true with each passing month, and with each creative burst from Jeff. This certainly isn’t news to well-read fans of his work, but if there was one writer I wish that the whole world knew, it would be Jeff Ford. I’ve illustrated a lot of covers these last several years for a lot of great books and a lot of great authors, and I’m ever-so-grateful for that honor. However, the bottom line is, for most folks out there, I hit their collective radar when I did the wraparound cover for THE FANTASY WRITER’S ASSISTANT AND OTHER STORIES (Golden Gryphon, 2002). I don’t exactly know why that cover connected with so many folks, but I suspect much of the reason is the sheer magic of Jeff’s writing. The book won the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection in 2003, and it contains the short story “Creation” which also won the World Fantasy Award that year. It seems to me that a lot of great opportunities started to slowly come my way, after I did that cover.
Then last year, I got another chance at a Jeff Ford cover. In my humble opinion, THE EMPIRE OF ICE CREAM (Golden Gryphon, 2006) is an even better collection than FANTASY WRITER’S ASSISTANT. Hard to imagine that Jeff could have crafted an even more amazing collection of stories, but he did it. If you don’t own EMPIRE OF ICE CREAM yet, then stop reading this, and go snag one for yourself. If you don’t, then all of your cool friends will be pointing and laughing at you at the end of the year, when everyone is trumpeting this book as the Best Story Collection of 2006. I don’t have enough hyperbole for this book. After I read it, I knew I had to raise my own game another notch, and the resulting cover is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It was one of those rare endeavors where I did the best thing possible — surprise myself. And I give all the credit to Jeff’s stories for that inspiration.
This man is a master of story, and his powers know no limits of genre or content. THE GIRL IN THE GLASS just won the prestigious Edgar Award (Best Mystery Paperback Original), and I couldn’t be happier for Jeff. We sometimes don’t appreciate greatness when it’s smack-dab in our midst, and I’m glad to see more and more people realizing the consistent greatness of Jeff’s work. He’s the best. Keep it coming, man!