Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cover Sketch for Book Three


With the first book of my series, (The Crown Conspiracy,) at bookstores, and the second, (Avempartha,) at my publisher, I am working on the third. The manuscript is presently awaiting a rough edit from my wife. While I pride myself on avoiding plot holes, sometimes you are blind to openings a truck could haul freight through. Robin is particularly good at catching me. She is a bit like Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny—the magician’s greatest nightmare—poking at my plots for weak points.

“Wouldn’t they check to see if they could all enter the prison using just their hands first? I know I wouldn’t stick my head in there before I was sure. Wouldn’t Royce have a plan? Wouldn’t he explain exactly what each of them would do in detail first? Would Myron just leave the horses behind? What if they don’t come back? Won’t the horses starve?”

We have been known to debate these kinds of issues for hours and sometimes the debates can get heated and loud. I’ve always wondered what the neighbors think. “Hon? The Sullivan’s are arguing again about whether you would stay conscious long enough to see a sword pulled slowly out of your stomach or not.”

As it happens however, Robin has been too busy to take red pen to my scores of beautifully lined up black letters, which, while I am certain this is a relief to the neighbors (and my daughter) it leaves me turning to other projects.

This weekend I began the rough sketches for the cover of the third book, which like book 2 will depict a scene from the story. I will be continuing the tradition of avoiding any depiction of characters. It is one thing to have an artist paint a picture of characters that don’t look at all like how you pictured them, and quite another to have the author do it. When I was a young man just starting college I had hoped to be a professional cover illustrator, and I learned that usually artists only have the back cover blurb and a few brief notes to go on. They don’t have the luxury or the time to read the story and authors rarely have any control over the cover art, or the book title. (Tolkien never liked the title The Return of the King that his publisher imposed, feeling that it gave the plot away.) This is why black-haired, brown-eyed characters sometimes appear on the cover with blond hair and blue eyes. Wanting to avoid shattering carefully built dreams, I decided to restrict the covers to landscapes inspired by the book.

Book one is a loose watercolor of Melengar in late autumn, Essendon castle on the right, the Galewyr River curving around and leading past the Wind’s Abbey on the left edge of the back cover. Book 2 was a no-brainer, it is a depiction of Avempartha, a view that Royce becomes quite familiar with. For book 3, I ran into trouble. Nothing has come immediately to mind, or rather several ideas have come to mind—all bad. Sadly, I am not nearly as good an illustrator as I would like to be—part of the reason I am a writer I suppose. I can think of a few scenes that would be great, but I don’t have the skill to make them work. Maybe one day…until then this is what I am struggling with so far.

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