You know, as a writer I’ve never been worried about what genre a book falls into. A story occurs to me. Or sometimes a character or two just up and walks into my head and starts talking. Or I see the name of a creek or a town as I’m riding down the road and that name just begs to be used. One thing I have learned, though. Somewhere, someplace, in all my work there’ll be a hint of otherworldly—magic.
But once that magic translates itself onto words typed on pages of blank computer screen and is winging its way to my publisher, another type of magic takes over. The magic of our cover artist, who takes my descriptions of setting, of characters, and puts together a cover that just captures the absolute essence—the feel—of the book I’ve poured my soul into over the last few months. (Or sometimes, the last years.) At Books We Love our publishers and cover artist work together to produce magic on a regular basis. And the end results just knock all of us out. Sometimes they even trigger the next book.
Take my War-N-Wit, Inc. series, for example. Yes, I’d planned for that to be a series. What I didn’t plan on was how very much the first cover would affect the as-yet-to-be written future books. See, one of my publishers who shall be nameless (but whose initials are Jude Pittman) works with us and our cover artist Michelle Lee to produce the best covers possible. And the cover of The Witch just knocked me down. I mean it knocked me down. It’s just so absolutely perfect for that book. I fell in love with the models they’d picked to portray Chad and Ariel and I fell in love with that image of the black cat perched on top of my name.
Now, the thing is, we all knew at the time this would be a series. And it made sense to do more than one cover while we were at it, seeing as how they’d need the same models, and especially seeing as how Michelle made me that wonderful banner used in the center of each cover, the one with the witch on the broomstick (which I’m advised by many of those nearest and dearest to me is just too damn close to my real personality for comfort and I’m not talking about the magical aspect). I had a basic plot for each, not fully fleshed out, but on its way. I saw one of the pictures of “Chad” proposed for Resurrection and just hollered. Jude and I are clear across a continent from each other but I’m pretty sure she could hear me anyway. “I have to have that picture! The one with him holding the necklace! It’s perfect! I can use that! In the plot!” And I did. Without revealing too much, I’ll tell you the necklace on the cover is the Tear of Isis and it’s pivotal to the plot of Resurrection.
And then there’s that black cat that showed up on the first cover. Well, Jude and Michelle had the absolutely brilliant idea of using him on all the War-N-Wit covers. So they did. He moves around a lot. Don’t look for him in the same spot, but oh, yeah, he’s there. In all of them. He follows them. And thus was born Micah, Ariel’s black cat. He’s in both Resurrection and The Coven, but like the Tear of Isis, he’s absolutely pivotal to the plot of Resurrection. He’s been a huge hit with the readers and no War-N-Wit would ever be complete without him now. Nor would I ever even consider leaving him out of one.
Now, The Dark Series, well, those are an entirely different type of book. In essence, they’re my dark love song to my home town, both as it exists now and as it existed in 1888. The town itself, and especially a few of its landmarks, are almost characters themselves. And the most important one is Rose Arbor Cemetery, based on a very real cemetery in my very real town, a very old one with great historical significance. And lots of mausoleums. We found a picture of an old cemetery depicting two separate mausoleums that could easily be found in Rose Arbor’s realtime alter-ego, and Michelle used a different angle of that picture highlighting one of the structures on The Color of Seven and the other on The Color of Dusk. And then for the combined series set, she offset the two covers to compliment each other so gorgeously that I still stop and stare every time I pass them. (Yes. My covers are framed and on my bedroom wall. Yes. All of them. All eight. It took me twenty years to publish a book, so sue me.)
But Books We Love never stops supporting its writers. Never stops thinking of ways to help them showcase their work. So last night, an email came in from one of my publishers who shall be nameless (but whose initials are Jamie Hill) with a note: “Michelle made these for your series. They’re really neat. Check it out.” Neat? They’re neat? I direct your attention to the top of this blog. To the covers that keep flipping from one cover to the next. To the first post in the columns of this blogsite wherein those gifts will remain in perpetuity. (Sorry. I’m a paralegal in my day job. Sometimes the jargon still comes through.) Now I ask you—would you call that neat? Personally, I call that awesome.
I do, as a matter of fact, have the cover waiting for me for my WIP (you know, I’d been in the publishing world for almost a year before I finally figured out that stood for work in progress), and it absolutely blows me away with its stark simplistic imagery. I don’t think any cover could fit that book and title (which is Black Turkey Walk, just in case anybody wants to make a note) more perfectly, and I can’t wait to debut it to the world. Which means I’d best be getting back to it. No new books, no new covers. And those things are addictive, you know?