Whether they should be or not, books are judged by their covers. Cover artwork is the first and most prominent representation of a book and as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words. (It's a cliché for a reason!) As an avid reader I understand the reality. As an author I confess that it feels weird to have my art (the story itself) judged by someone else's art (a cover picture).
Let me start by saying that I don't create my own covers. Most authors don't. Most of us have little control over them, although I'm happy to say that my publisher gives me more input than usual.
The cover art for Cassie Scot was painted by Ural Akyuz. Wait, painted? Yes, that's right. If this cover strikes you as a bit different from other urban fantasy novels then that's probably because the popular trend these days is for photo manipulation. This style does create striking, vivid, even beautiful images, but I confess that I've got a soft spot for handcrafted art. Photographs are almost too perfect. Paintings leave me with a sense of the abstract. This seems particularly fitting since the title, with the “para” in “paranormal” struck through, is also abstract.
I really like the cover for this book. I didn't care for the cover for my last book, The Immortality Virus, so this is something of a relief! It has also been something of a relief that the response to the cover artwork from the public has been generally positive. I've seen one naysayer (that doesn't mean there aren't more) who thought the cover looks dull compared to others in the same genre. Well, like I said, we didn't do the photo manipulation for this project. If you're in love with that style, this may seem a little dull. I prefer to think of it as different, but to each his own. :)
In case the picture isn't giving you a thousand words, here are a few hundred more to help fill in the details for you:
The woman on the cover is Cassie, more or less as I envisioned her when I wrote her. I even provided the artist with a link to a picture of the outfit she is wearing, though he adjusted the color to better suit the background. She’s looking off into the distance, thinking of… well, any number of things. This series is written in the first person, and a lot of it takes place inside Cassie’s head. There is a mystery, some romance, and even a bit of action, but her own desire to be something more than she is drives the story. It will drive the entire series, actually, only resolving in the final volume.
There is a glow coming from the lake, one the crescent moon can’t fully account for. This is an abstract, a representation of a source of magic that Cassie can’t see and is therefore not looking at, though she knows it’s there somewhere. It is intentionally subtle, and I don’t expect readers to pick up on it. It’s enough that I know it’s there, and if you care to buy into it, then so do you.
Mostly though what I asked for, and what I got, was lovely cover art. There is some darkness in this story, but it is full of light, life, and hope. The leaves are green, the plants are in bloom, and Cassie has a snapdragon tucked behind her ear.
The body of water in the background is Table Rock Lake, a man-made lake that stretches for many miles through southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas. The story takes place in a fictionalized town called Eagle Rock, MO, a tourist town on Table Rock Lake in the Ozark Mountains.
There is a real Eagle Rock, by the way. An old friend of my grandfather’s used to live there years ago, and my family visited him when I was a child. He would take us out on the lake on his motor boat. I can’t remember exactly what made me think to use the town’s name and location for this story, but I assure you, it is fictionalized. The real Eagle Rock has a population of 1 or 2 dozen people, and if you blink driving through, you’ll miss it. It was a beautiful area, though, and going with the advice “write what you know,” I decided it would suit this story nicely.
Ural Akyutz should be available to do the artwork for the rest of the series, which will give the books a consistent look and feel. I was nervous while waiting for the cover artwork for this book – more anxious nervous than excited nervous because of the experience I'd had with The Immortality Virus. Now as I anticipate the cover artwork for Secrets and Lies, the second book in the Cassie Scot series, I am excited exited.
It still feels weird to have my story judged by Ural's artwork, but I stand behind it. I've used the cover artwork on facebook, twitter, google+, and have it printed on the bookmarks I hand out to readers I meet in person.
Whether the cover is to your taste or not, I hope you'll consider judging my book by its first couple of chapters. That is unapologetically mine – my voice, my style, my character. I have a prominent link to them on my web site or you can find them here: First Chapters.
Cassie Scot Book One
Genre: Urban Fantasy (paranormal, mystery, romance, new adult)
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Date of Publication: May 15, 2013
Number of pages: 260
Word Count: 85,000
Cover Artist: Ural Akyutz
Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family's reputation isn't easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.