Cover Art and Characters

Expected Marketing Update: Currently working with small book store owners and arranging blog appearances. Lots of emails. Lots of waiting.

On another more interesting note, my lovely cover artist has sent me a few questions which inspired a blog. Mainly, this blog post will consist of considering particular ideas about models and symbols associated with plot and characters. If you’re interested continue. If you want more on the marketing campaign, please come back next week when I hopefully will have something more to say than “Hey, sent a bunch of emails and replied to a few.” I suppose that’s the reality check some are looking for about being an author, but I’m not so interested in writing about it.

While character descriptions have their merit, we’ve moved away from flowery overly detailed character descriptions in most genres because its too much telling and not enough showing. I’m fine with that. Waxing on about my character’s hair or eye color isn’t my favorite pass time. However, knowing what they look like is important.

And I don’t mean just the written word. I’m talking pictures of whoever looks like or has a feature kind of similar to your character. Some of my works have pictures attached just because those characters were strongly associated with someone immediately known to me. Others, not so much.

Unfortunately, I knew what my main characters looked like, but I didn’t think about translating that into physical pictures of real people until my cover artist (here in CA) asked. Every other question from regionally specific skylines to symbols, I had covered with a bit of consideration. Real life models? Not so much.

As it’s just the two main, I was able to settle on their most important features and work from there. My narrator is named Jon Blythe. He’s 18, lanky, multiracial, and a lovely melting pot of features. Finding people with his features – no problem. Finding someone with them all – didn’t happen. His features became partialed out among three individuals. No problem, right?

Then came Jordan. I had thought Jordan would be easy. Jon had his African American / French maternal grandmother, Native American maternal grandfather, and his Scandinavian father. As I said, a melting pot of familiar faces. Once I got started, I knew who to look at and where to look for Jon. With Jordan, I didn’t know how to start. Sure, he’s Icelandic. Okay, look up Icelandic models, but they weren’t right. The features sort of blended for me. Nobody looked right. I eventually tour of northern Europe to find the right features. Honestly though, I’m still not 100% pleased on Jordan.

Frankly, everyone was too good looking to be Jordan, but I guess characters are meant to be either attractive and good or pitiably ugly and good. Quote the Beatles, “I think I disagree.”

The point of this rant? If you have the time, find images beforehand. They might actually change how you envision or even design your characters. Seeing the features you imagine next to each other is especially useful in familial relations. Finding Jon’s features, I first figured out what his grandparents and mother look like. Though I doubt his grandparents would ever be on the cover, Jon’s mom is a BAMF, so I’m rather pleased to put a real face to her.

Good luck.

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