Sunday, October 15, 2006

Covered up!

Every year the All About Romance website
runs a contest for the best book covers published in romance industry in the USA during the previous year - romance in this sense covering a broad church. So large and popular has this particular contest become that it now has its own dedicated site at Cover cafe.
I am delighted to announce that the cover for Shadows And Strongholds (St Martins Press) has made the final ten in the historical section as adjudged by the panel. If anyone would care to vote for it in the final placings, then please do! I am thrilled not only on my own behalf, but on Larry Rostant's. He's the illustrator of my new look covers and when I told him Shadows and Strongholds had made the final, he was touched and really pleased because this is the first award of any kind he's been up for.
'Shadows and Strongholds' belongs to the genre of 'headless bodice' covers of which there have admittedly been a plethora since The Other Boleyn Girl brought them to the fore. Some readers say they have become tired of them, but they still seem to be doing very well across the board and personally I love mine (and not only because I have seen sales more than quadruple since their inception!) Of course there are abominations - there are in any style of cover, but done well, the 'headless bodice' and its variations 'bodyless feet' for e.g. The Time Traveller's Wife, can be dead certs for getting readers to at least notice and pick up the novel in the first place. To judge from the finalists in the historical section of the 2005 Cover contest, the 'headless bodice' has had strong appeal to the judging panel with five of the ten being of this type. I also notice from glancing around that heroines with their hands behind their backs appear to be a key feature! Here's the url to the historical section.
When Larry first designed Shadows and Strongholds, the heroine's gown was blue velvet. I sent in an example photo of a typical gown of the period that a re-enactor friend had made using orange and gold brocade from a bolt of cloth especially woven for English Heritage. That fabric design and the colours have been morphed onto the Shadows and Strongholds gown. It's not strictly accurate in style, but the fabric is! I have been told that the cover was the hit of the Frankfurt Bookfair last year and that foreign publishers who had given Shadows and Strongholds a miss in the old hardback cover, were coming back to reconsider buying purely because of the cover art. That might not be what one wants to hear as a wordsmith, but as a commercial author, one gets down on one's knees and says thank you!


Gabriele Campbell said...

This is a very beautiful cover. I voted for it because I honestly like it best of the 10.

I found another familar cover in the contest: Lynn Viehl's If Angels Burn which is definitely the sexiest in the Alternate Reality category.

KC said...

I loved the cover contest. I had not realized what a renaissance the romance book cover industry had undergone. I have to admit that it's a section of the bookstore I never visit. See, I do not personally consider your books Romance. I consider them Historicals, and if they were carried in the stores here in the states, I would look for them in the Literature & Fiction section.

And of course, I voted for your cover!

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Gabriele, thanks for voting for 'Shadows'. I loved looking through all the categories. If Angels Burn was a good one, although my fancy was particularly tickled by The Moon Witch because I liked the colours and the look of it from a distance.
KC, I don't consider my books to be romance either in the straight hero/heroine tradition. But they are romantic. I think these days I straddle the line between writing the romantic and the straight historical. Were I to be put on a 'similar to' list for readers, I would cite Anya Seton, Roberta Gellis and Sharon Kay Penman. Of the three, Gellis is closest to romance, Seton in the middle (like me) and Penman at the straight end, but all within that particular bracket. Others might categorise differently, but that's where I personally see myself. Mostly I think my books would be shelved under literature and general fiction. I am a member of the Romantic Novelists Association in the UK, but it is a very broad church and its members run from category romance writers through to authors of literary fiction and all stops in between.

Kemberlee said...

In many circles I've frequented over the years, there has been a holy trinity of women "historical" writers...yourself, Sharon Kay Penman and Barbara Erskine. I've read all three. I find Penman tedious and Erskine repetative. But you my dear are an original and always will be.

Regarding romance and historicals, there's a traditional break...romance with historical elements and historicals with romantic elements. I believe your books fall into the latter of the two. I've learned more about the English monarchy reading your books than I ever did in history class!!

~Kemberlee, adding up one more vote for S&S on AAR...good luck!!