Characters and stories come in strange ways. “Mattie Hornbecker’s Other Bag” (short story) evolved from a bird-shaped sweat-stain on the back of a cyclist—and Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles was born of exam-induced stress dreams.
It was a cold day in late November, after leaves and before snow: the perfect setting for a class on gothic novels. I was a graduate student then, and we were plotting to convince the prof that exams should be foregone in favor of fiction writing. Why not? We were discussing vampire stories; wouldn’t it be a better test of our ability to write our own? Not surprisingly, the professor didn’t see it that way. Ah well, I thought. Worth a shot. I went home that night with plenty of studying to do, little suspecting that an idea had taken hold in my subconscious.
Sometime late that night, I found myself dreaming television. It’s boring, really… Insipid dramas and highly suspicious CSI episodes. But you can’t change the channel on dream-TV, so I watched. And there he was: a young man, cajoled by his obnoxious aunt and annoying sister, desperately trying to escape the house for some night air… as a vampire. Exactly what Freud would make of this, I have no idea (even though we were studying him in class, too). Regardless, I awoke with twitching fingers and thought of nothing else all day long. That next evening, I scurried home, dumped my books, and wrote from dinner till 2am. Jacob Maresbeth was born. [READ MORE]
PS: if you want to hear more about that bird-shaped stain and Mattie Hornbecker, leave a comment. 😉
Not every author is given the opportunity to design a book covers. Let’s face it, not every author wants to! On the other hand, if you are an artist yourself, it can be difficult to refrain from leaping into the ring and making suggestions. I spent part of my young life doing portraits and graphic work, as well as freelance web design, and I’ve done illustrations for other publications. As a result, I have a tendency to get the finger-twitch when it comes to cover design. Luckily for me, my non-fiction publisher (Elliott and Thompson) employed a truly gifted artist for my upcoming cultural history of death–but more than this, they asked for and listened to my input. (I’ll have a cover reveal and press release on the Daily Dose soon for that, I promise).
Feeling that your publisher understands you (and your story) remains one of the keys to a successful relationship. After speaking with the editor of Cooperative Press about ideas for the upcoming fiction trilogy, The Chronicles of Jacob Maresbeth, I was encouraged not only to participate, but to design. We collaborated, working with templates, and after several mock-ups the first book’s cover took shape. I am happy to present the result–not as my lone artistic vision, but as a happy collaboration with people I trust and admire:
This is still an uncorrected proof (text font will be different), but you get the idea. We are presently working on the cover of chronicle two, and I’ve already done the mock-ups for cover three. It has been a delight to work closely with my publisher and editors at Cooperative Press, just as it has been wonderful working with Elliott and Thompson. I know there are plenty of bad experiences to be had, but we should celebrate golden moments when our interests and those of our press align.