Cover design is happening

Terrific news from my publisher last week. The cover design for This Wild, Wild Country is in the works.

I’m not going to give too much away just yet. But I can talk a little bit about the cover design for The Long, Long Afternoon. I get asked a lot about the cover. Who created it? Did you get a say in it? How is a book cover decided?

Getting the cover right is crucial, both for the author and the publisher. The author wants a representation of their vision for the book. Once the cover is revealed, the book finally becomes real.

The publisher, of course, has another motive: sales. A cover needs to pop, it needs to stand out from the crowd of books on a book shelf. It needs to appeal – but not necessarily to everyone. A good book cover entices the kinds of readers who will love the book, not all readers everywhere.

Author and publisher will work together on a design that both are happy with. While the publisher has the final say (after all, they’ve got the publishing rights), they won’t want an author to be upset about the cover. It is normal for covers to go through several versions – even the text placement needs to be carefully thought out.

Above is the first concept proposal for The Long, Long Afternoon’s hardback cover that I got to see. Alot of the elements are already there. The broken plate, the curtains, the flowers. But I was still able to make changes and comments. I ran the cover past my family, and my sister suggested adding the stain on the cupboard that could be food… or blood!

The final cover really stands out from other crime novels. It is bright, sunny and charming… but the broken items, the burnt turkey and the knife prominently sticking from the chopping board give it an air of unease. The kitchen looks lived in, but abandoned. The food has been lovingly prepared, then left to rot. The geraniums are peering in, ready drop their blood-red petals all over the scrubbed sink.

I’ll tell you a secret. Can you see the shadow of a man in the light streaming onto the floor? He’s hard to spot, but he’s there…

Writing Magazine: Creating a New Noir

In September, I was lucky to be featured in the incredible Writing Magazine, a resource I subscribed to for years. See the article here.

We can look at things a little differently, we can open the shutters, let daylight in and ask the secretive dame what she really thinks. Her answers, dear reader, may surprise you.

Writing Magazine, 3 September 2021

Writing Magazine is a great read for everyone who is into creative writing – be it novels, poetry or short fiction. They even have interesting sections on memoirs and non-fiction. I highly recommend it.

My article looked at women in the Noir genre, and how some of Noir’s tropes are changing in the 21st century. I’m not sure I’ve actually “reinvented” Noir, but I do like to think that I’ve given it a bit of a kick up the a**e in The Long, Long Afternoon.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The Long, Long Afternoon is a very noir book, even though it is set in sunny California and features starched curtains and prim aprons instead of neon-lit blinds and chain-smoking low-lives (although there is some smoking, and a couple of shady characters, too. Noir is not necessarily about a time and place, it is about atmosphere. Noir creates a sense of unease, a feeling of being rejected by one’s peers. It is for mavericks, for people who cross social and cultural boundaries.

I wish there was more Noir in fiction, especially in historical fiction. Noir allows us authors to introduce a modern perspective to historical events or settings. It’s a modern genre, but it applies to all ages – after all, there have always been people who felt uneasy about the way things were going, and became mavericks of their time.

Under the radar ;)

Congratulations are in order – I won the Under the Radar award from Sue at the fabulous Brown Flopsie’s Book Burrow review blog. It’s a true Christmas present!

Quite a while after Sue wrote this wonderfully succinct and loving review of The Long, Long Afternoon, we met at the Bloody Scotland literary festival in Stirling. Sue is such an amazing book blogger and a great friend of debut authors across the UK. We really need that early buzz to get our pre-orders up and get noticed – so bloggers like Sue are our lifeblood.

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