The cover for Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words (at right) was officially revealed last week at Austen Variations. But I always like to hold a little something special back for readers of my own website/blog. So that’s what I have for you today as a bonus: what I’ve held back, an inside look at the cover development and the never-before-seen-anywhere full-wrap paperback cover!
Next to the actual launch, the cover reveal is the most exciting part of bringing a new book out into the world… at least for me, since I’m just as much involved in the creative process of each.
My mom was an artist, and so I very naturally developed an interest in art from an early age. I dabbled in this and that form of art and lots of crafts. Then as an adult, I eventually started producing some jewelry and paintings to sell at local art shows, which I attended in partnership with my mom. But whereas my mother was a real artist at heart, I didn’t discover my true creative calling until I started writing novels.
Now the writing has entirely taken over. But when each book is finished, I have an opportunity to resurrect my latent artistic flare, turning it loose in the cover design process!
I’ve made no secret of the fact that the picture above (a still of Colin Firth’s Darcy, P&P ’95) inspired not only the cover design for this book but in some ways the novel itself.
Mr. Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien, and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year. The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud; to be above his company and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend.Pride and Prejudice, chapter 3
I like the expression caught on his face here. You can imagine that beneath that perfectly controlled and well-put-together exterior there’s a lot of emotion going on. He’s a flawed man, a tortured soul. He’s a man trapped within the social constraint of his time, within the high expectations placed on him by others as well as himself, and within his own reserved nature. When Elizabeth comes along and upsets his carefully ordered life, he’s torn between doing his duty – keeping his word to the woman he’s promised to marry – and giving in to his heart’s desire for another.
So that was the starting point for the cover: the inspiration picture. Then next came the “artist’s interpretation” of it – in this case, a pastel painting.
It’s not a photographic copy, nor was it intended to be. My hope was to capture the essence in a more “painterly” style. It came out looking like a slightly younger Mr. Darcy, I think, which is entirely appropriate since the book covers some ground in the years just before the scope of Pride and Prejudice. Besides, the character in the book was about 5 years younger than Colin Firth was when he played Darcy.
But wait! Maybe you noticed that in the finished cover, Darcy is facing the opposite direction! Well, that’s the work of the talented graphic artist who does my covers (who also happens to be my nephew). I sent him the finished paintings, telling him, “But I really think it will work better if you flip Darcy right for left, to balance the picture of Pemberley at the top. …And could you shade the background from dark to lighter as you go down. …Oh, and would it be too much trouble to add some more hair at the top of his head?”
Poor guy. I’m sure he finds me a very challenging client. But after much back and forth, and usually after I’ve changed my mind about something at least once, we end up with a cover I’m very happy with in the end. Then after the Kindle cover (at the top of the page) is finished, he moves on the the paperback and finally the audio cover design.
So now for the grand finale: the unveiling of the never-before-seen paperback cover. Ta-da! (click to enlarge)
I hope you enjoyed your behind-the-scenes look at how this cover developed, step by step. And I hope you would like to see it gracing your bookshelves soon (or at least your Kindle).
Everything is on track for the May 4th publication in Kindle, KU, and paperback. It’s available now at Amazon for Kindle pre-order too! Audio begins production soon and should come out sometime in June. The incomparable Harry Frost will be the narrator! Read more about the book here.