Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Posts Tagged ‘Signet

The story of a cover

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Back in February, my editor emailed to say that my publisher was holding an art meeting soon to discuss the cover for The Icon Thief, which at that point was still known as Kamera. He invited me to put together my thoughts on possible designs, as well as some comparable covers, and, obsessive that I am, I obliged with a memo of nine long paragraphs, complete with illustrations. (I thought briefly about including a quick mockup I’d put together in Photoshop, but thankfully refrained from doing so.) The response to my ideas at NAL was very respectful, but I had no way of knowing what the result would be, or how much input I would ultimately have in the process.

In my memo, I noted that the novel has three major plot elements: Marcel Duchamp, Russia, and the Rosicrucians. (If I haven’t spoken much about these topics on this blog, it’s because I want to keep the plot a surprise, although I expect I’ll be posting more on these subjects as the publication date approaches.) Among the corresponding images I proposed were the exterior of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Duchamp’s Étant Donnés is located; an overlay of some Russian text; and the rosy cross. I also included images of a few covers that I thought were comparable: An Instance of the Fingerpost, Foucault’s Pendulum, The English Assassin by Daniel Silva, and The Messiah Secret by James Becker (the latter two of which, like my own novel, are published by NAL’s Signet imprint).

After that, I didn’t hear anything about the cover for months, until last week, when I received the rather remarkable image that I posted yesterday. Looking at it now, I’m gratified by how much of my input was reflected in the final version, accidentally or otherwise, and how many of the novel’s themes are visible in one form or another. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is here, of course, as well as the red cross of the Rosicrucians, along with some Russian text—evidently a stock photo of an old manuscript, but still gorgeous—visible in the background. Above all, the title of the novel is beautifully rendered. (Incidentally, the meeting where the cover design was discussed was also where the subject of a possible title change was first raised, a fix I now wish I’d made years earlier.)

As for the other symbols, they were chosen more for their visual impact than anything else, although they contain subtle messages of their own. The cherub on the upper right looks ahead to House of Passages, the second installment in the series, in which cherubim of a very different kind play an important symbolic role. On the upper left, we have a view of Peles Castle in Romania, which doesn’t figure in the story yet, but may have a role to play in the future, as the action of the series moves ever eastward. As for the red cross…well, this is an extremely important symbol, and its true significance won’t become clear to readers of the novel until almost the very last page. For now, though, you’ll have to wait a bit longer.

Written by nevalalee

July 20, 2011 at 9:52 am

Progress report

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Aside from my author photos and a certain royal wedding—which, yes, I got up at five this morning to watch with my wife, who wore a pink tiara to celebrate—it’s been an eventful week. On Wednesday, my editor finally sent me the copy-edited manuscript of The Icon Thief, which I’m supposed to review and return by May 11. At first glance, the changes all seem fairly straightforward—devoted mostly to changing “further” to “farther” and correcting my inconsistent use of the word “towards”—but I haven’t had a chance to really go through it yet. Still, it’s fun looking at the style sheet for the novel, with its long list of random proper names and foreign phrases (“Roger Casement,” tzaddikim, Dip Pepl). And I hope to write more about the copy-editing process in weeks to come.

More importantly, I’ve been informed that the publication of The Icon Thief has been pushed back two months to April 2012, from its original release date of February. Evidently it’s not uncommon for publication dates to be reshuffled like this, and my editor seems to think that this will be the last such change. The book is still in a good slot—it’s Signet’s lead title for the month—and the revised timeline gives us an extra couple of months to properly market the novel. All the same, it’s a little nerve-wracking. But looking at the calendar of summer movie releases, I’m oddly tickled to see that the novel will be coming out a week or two before Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. Feeling nervous, Joss?

Written by nevalalee

April 29, 2011 at 8:33 am

Posted in Publishing, Writing

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