The manuscript is written. The editing and revision are progressing. But your thoughts are locked on a visual representation of your story. The protagonist has been in your head for months, possibly even years, indistinct in exact details—you don’t want anything too recognizable: no photos of starlets or hunks. Other characters live in your head as nebulous physical entities.
What are distinct are the props: houses, trees, a painting, a ball gown, a uniform, the main street, a churchyard. But do any of these express the essence of the novel?
For my novel, Wait a Lonely Lifetime, published by Avalon in 2012, the cover artist chose a night scene of the Ponte Vecchio—one of the most recognizable landmarks in Florence. Though this bridge is mentioned several times in the novel, including a reference to World War II and how it was saved from destruction, the Vecchio does not represent the underlying theme of second-chance at love.
I followed this safe, tried and true, method of cover design with my second novel, published in 2014, using a photo of the city in which the novel, Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, takes place. Initially, we used a silhouette including the skyline, ballet slippers and a flying reptile, but this didn’t make the cut to the paperback edition. Following this publication, I used flora to indicate the season of the story but had little to do with the story.
My current work in progress, Pavane for Miss Marcher, is an historical novel, set in the 1870s in a rural village in Maine. The male protagonist is a Civil War veteran who returns home many years later, suffering from guilt and an aching heart, hoping to find the woman whose one letter had given him hope that he could once again be human.
A red ball gown, a painting of lilies, a pumpkin patch, a piano, a New England house or village?