It has been eight days since my last update on the Chet III cover art. After several more revisions, the finished artwork arrived mid-morning. To put it bluntly, I’m delighted with the way it turned out. I’ve always liked the artwork for Chet: Whispers From the Past, and now there’s a new contender for my favorite cover art.
If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to draw the curtain back and give you a glimpse into the past three years as the Chet series has grown from an idea to a tangible reality.
It probably seems silly, but I’ve always believed it’s risky for an author to put a character on the cover, especially if the reader has a back story with the character. The first hurdle arises as the artist tries to reconcile their interpretation to the author’s mental image of the character. Even when that’s successful, there’s always the issue that no matter how well the author has described the character, every reader has created their own unique vision of the character’s physical appearance.
When I undertook the role of author, I never expected to have my characters displayed so prominently on the covers of my books. With how character rich the Chet series is, I should have known better …
My first foray in putting a character on the cover was Whispers from the Past. As you know, Chet is displayed prominently. Let me just say, it was a challenge getting his persona to come across in visual artwork, no matter how talented the artist. Even though Chet appears on the cover, my courage was insufficient to portray the scene as written and I stripped Charles and Kristyn out of the artwork the scene is based on. I just couldn’t bring myself to try bringing them to life outside the written word.
It wasn’t easy, but when it came time to create the Strength Beyond Our Own artwork, I felt I had no choice but to leave David in the scene. (I couldn’t very well revive my earlier ploy. It’s one thing to have an empty pickup sitting in a barn. It’s another thing altogether to have a driverless pickup careening across a snow-covered landscape.) After writing two full length novels, I’d developed a very detailed image of David in my mind. There was simply no way to convey that living—breathing—image to my artist. It was a struggle, but after a few revisions, I managed to let go of my mental image enough to allow Brian’s interpretation to go to print.
By the time the prequel novella came along, I was reasonably comfortable featuring Chet on the cover, and it wasn’t too much of a stretch to put a younger Charles in the seat of the blue Chevy he drove when drag racing against Chet. After all, I’d only had the writing of three chapters in which to create a mental picture of the youthful Charles.
Then came Hidden in the Heart. You can’t imagine how I squirmed when it came time to put both Charles and Julie on the cover. Keep in mind, I’ve now created three full length novels. Over the course of the process, my characters have come to life for me, and none more so than Charles and Julie. Unfortunately, Charles and Julie are such an integral part of the scene I chose for the cover that I couldn’t just strip them out. With no other choice, I took some deep breaths and made the plunge.
Brian probably felt like he was working with a lunatic before I finally bought off on the image of Charles. It’s still not what I see when I envision my fictitious friend, but it’s close enough that I could live with it. When it came time to add Julie to the scene, Brian wisely chose to turn her away from the reader. I like to think his solution was meant to save me the trauma of trying to bring yet another character to life, but in reality it was more likely to save himself the no-win struggle of working with a crazy author.
After seven months, the artwork is finally done. Brian has heaved a huge sigh of relief that the project is completed, and I’m busily integrating the artwork into the cover. Stay tuned for the cover reveal of Chet: Hidden in the Heart.