Do you have any input in how the covers of your books are going to look? Love the covers of your books, by the way!
Very good question. I so wish I could say that I had a significant influence on these covers because they really are gorgeous! But the fact is, my input is quite small.
For Heartless, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Bethany House's marvelous Creative Director, Paul Hidgon. That was a great experience! What was supposed to be maybe an hour long conversation turned into (if I remember correctly) pushing three hours. He is a gracious man with a great personality and a huge range of creativity . . . my kind of person! He picked my brain about Heartless and its themes and what I would like to see on the story.
He showed me stock images that he had on hand, trying to see what looked like my story so that he could get a real feel for it. These images went everywhere from Lord of the Rings epic elves and sorcerers to gothic vampire-type illustrations! I told him what I would like to see a pre-Raphaelite feel. If you don't know what pre-Raphaelite style is, think this:
Even though Heartless is set in a more advanced culture than this idealized Medieval, I wanted there to be this strong feel of romance and Fairy Tale . . . for ultimately, Heartless is a fairy tale, no matter the historic setting. I love how the pre-Raphaelites used such romantic subjects with such strong contrasts of light or dark. I told Paul Higdon that I would love to see a golden, light-filled glow but with with a looming darkness on the edges.
I also mentioned that I would love to see some sort of circular theme and sent them this image of Robin McKinley's newest novel at that time, which I thought was gorgeous. Pre-Raphaelite and visually stunning:
Don't you love how that decorative circle draws the eye? I thought it was beautiful and wondered if they could create a similar effect.
And, as you know, this was Paul Higdon's end result:
You tell me, dear readers, could he possibly have hit upon a better representation of what I asked for? I honestly think this cover is perfect. The girl looks just like I imagine Una . . . young, a bit petulant and sulky, with an innocence bordering on naivete. The central image is full of light and golden glow. The dragon eye and scales surrounding are dark and menacing. The eye creates the same dynamic circular effect as seen on Robin McKinley's story, but takes it in so much darker a direction. It is pre-Raphaelite, but also contemporary, and so perfectly suited to Heartless. I adore it!
I will mention that the original concepts I saw, while beautiful, did not include the dragon eye. That was my father's idea, actually. He suggested putting the image of the girl reflected in a dragon's eye. I passed on that suggestion, and the Bethany House artists ran with it.
With Veiled Rose, I didn't get to sit down with Paul. But I sent them several written ideas of possible themes. I think I may have suggested a mirror, but it was all their idea to show the Dragon holding up the mirror . . . which I consider a stroke of brilliance! Honestly, I think I might possibly like the final Veiled Rose cover even more than the Heartless cover. I love the brilliance of the blue tones with the subtle greens.
These three covers work well together because of the circle theme in the center of each and the use of reds and blues. Each cover has a different mood, but they simultaneously feel like part same overarching story. I look forward to seeing what they will do with Starflower! I will probably send them an image or two of what I picture the heroine looking like and some notes on appropriate period clothing. Other than that, I will likely have little say in the development of that cover. But, as you can see from what they have accomplished with these first three, they have a solid grasp of my work and my stories by now! They are quite amazing artists; all of their covers are visually striking and stand out in the crowd.
If you are interested, you can read this article in which Paul Higdon describes and illustrates the process they go through with each of their books. I found it quite fascinating! A great insight into a completely different side of the publication world.
So now I'm curious . . . which of these first three covers is your favorite?