Recently I’ve been working on the cover for Outlanders – sometimes it helps to get me focused knowing that side of things is already done – and it got me thinking about how different ideas actually make the final cut. In the current process, very helpfully, I’ve got some lovely friends (real world and ‘book world’) who I get feedback from and can ask lots of ridiculous questions, about the smallest details – hopefully they don’t get too bored!
I’m obviously not going to sneak-peek Outlanders just yet – but I thought you might like to see some of the ‘early thoughts’ I went through before finally selecting the final cover for Hope’s Daughter and why…
In the beginning…
Text wise – I preferred the plain, minimal typesets – to me they felt futuristic, perhaps because they’re less like traditional fonts you’d get from a type-writer, more like the keys on your laptop or used on websites. Something like Nocturnes in the Moonlight had the right kind of feeling for me:
Deciding on what to do with the main cover image was much tougher. Because of the space setting, originally I looked to include that, and with it being Cassie’s story, thought that she should make an appearance too. With that as a rough brief, the first cover I got back was this:
And – after the excitement of seeing the email in my inbox – I was sorely disappointed. I didn’t like the girl, the text, the over-exposed light (so you couldn’t actually see the starry backdrop). To me, this cover just said nothing about the book. It also made me realise that someone who didn’t know the story wasn’t going to make great creative leaps to generate the perfect cover: they needed much better guidance.
So…the brief changed…
I really liked the idea of hinting at the issues that would come out in the book, without making it obvious, I wanted to find something something simple, but striking and found that this guided us towards a single image. I also wanted people to make up their own mind on Cassie – I know how she looks in my head, but personally I’m not always a fan of the covers that give you a full picture of the character – if it’s not what I imagined, it can take away some of the pleasure of reading the book (if that makes sense?) It’s a little like the films not living up to the book because of how you picture some elements – I get the same thing with covers.
So I started looking at ideas for covers with less detail in them, I leaned towards covers like The Host – with the generic face and not too much detail on the character, but with the point of interest being drawn to the eye.
As the setting is post-apocolyptic something around the reflection of the semi-dead earth going back onto an eye seemed like it would work – Cassie is so drawn to the idea of Earth and what it would be like now or could have been like, having her eye focused on this fitted for me. When I was looking around for inspiration I came across the image of the ‘rainbow eye’ and I really liked the mix of colour and black and white. In many ways, Cassie, Balik and the others are living a half-life for much of the book, only seeing part of what is happening around them and so having the small part of Cassie’s face we see being black and white was a nod towards that. Her life only becomes full – coloured in – as she begins to awaken to the reality of her world.
The final element – plain white cover – wasn’t me, it just happened, and when I saw it, I felt it worked. In my head, much of Cassie’s physical world is plastic and white – and as I only wanted to hint at the difficulties to come – the white on the cover felt clean and pristine and blank. Sound familiar?
So there you how the cover came to be: the black and white element stayed, and the reflection of the Earth stayed (although as Cassie’s hopeful of something better, and also living in what is reported to be a perfect world, the image itself changed); the ‘less is more’ character image also stayed, so that Cassie can be who you want her to be.
I’m sure you’ll have guessed that The Rainbow Maker’s Tale is a straight reflection of the Hope’s Daughter cover: you’re going to see the same story and time line from Balik’s point of view…and it’s coming soon!