Got it covered
Posted June 30, 2010on:
One thing I often do when I’ve finished a novel, when I have some idea of what the story’s about, is put together a graphic for the cover. Not only might this be helpful for the cover artist, but it’s also helpful for me to see if I understand my own work. It doesn’t always work, I still don’t have a great idea for the cover for Unbinding the Stone, not that the cover artist did either. I see a man’s face, the crystal lattice tattoo on his forehead, and perhaps the statue with the flame in its bowl, centered between his eyes, the flames rising up to the tattoo. Have to think about that one. We want something that looks enough like the cover of A Warrior Made that the fact that they are related books is clear. The cover for A Warrior Made is based on an idea I had, much modified of course, but at least it has something to do with the book!
The cover art is often the first point of contact between book and buyer. Not always; I remember one absolutely marvelous book that I selected from the shelf because I liked the color of the binding. The cover was very striking, to, and I’ve owned that book twice so far. (It keeps disappearing on me.) Most bindings have boring colors, though, so it’s up to the cover to seal the deal. The back blurb, the quote (if the author is lucky enough to get one), even the tag line, none of them will work unless the cover brings the reader in close enough to actually read them. I don’t always have cover ideas, especially for short stories. My story ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, for example, which I wrote for the Hard Port theme of the Confluence contest (Confluence is next month, BTW), had no cover, and I admit I was stunned at the ingenuity of the cover artist for this piece, Nathalie Moore. She took a simple, homespun tale of cyber-piracy and gave it a sleek and sexy cover. Unfortunately, my publisher was recently attacked by cyber-pirates of a different sort and is rebuilding her web store under the Amazon security umbrella, and this story is not yet there.
Graphics are readily available off the web, of course, and it’s simple enough to cut and paste, or click and drag and resize, to put together images to get the effect I want. The trick is wanting an effect, not all stories reach out and tap the back of your favorite head against the wall. For St. Martin’s Moon, something special happened. I discovered the artwork of Christy “Goldenwolf” Grandjean, a South Dakotan artist specializing in lycanthropes, wolf-people, and other animorphs.
In particular, I discovered her image titled Heart Song, which is, ironically, a wolf-person image and not a werewolf image. But I liked it and it had a quality about it that resonated with my idea of the book. I had already done one graphic for the story, with a much more violent-looking werewolf image in it, and while it has a use (there is a very violent werewolf in the book), the book is about the lupes (a term I use in the book) who don’t want to be lupes. Heart Song has a quality of longing about it that was a much better fit. I think I will be looking over her other work, to see if I can get ideas for future stories.