We've all heard the chestnut about judging a book by its cover. And you know what? As an author, there is nothing more thrilling or exciting about the book publishing process than seeing your final copy with its beautiful cover. As a writer for Love Inspired, I can only take credit for this joyous moment in the sense that I describe my characters to the art department. The magic--the artistry that brings tears to each Love Inspired Historical author's eyes, and that makes you buy my books or at least give them a second glance--is all due to the talent of Carolyn Graziani, the head of the art department at Love Inspired Historical.
I decided to interview Carolyn the moment I saw the cover for my third book, Healing the Soldier's Heart. I was so delighted when I saw the proof that I cried a little. And then, I wanted to speak to her, to understand how she was able to take these characters that I created in my mind and which I describe to her in page after page of questions that I submit to the Art Department after my final draft.
These questions are intense. It's not enough to say that my heroine, Lucy Williams, has brown hair. No, I have to tell them if her hair is brown with a reddish tone, or mahogany, or the color of chocolate--the descriptions can be quite exhaustive. And yet--when I see the end results, I see why we have to be so very detailed. Carolyn and her crew take these descriptions for characters they've never met and then make them art.
So I had to know more about her process. And even though Carolyn is terribly busy, she graciously agreed to answer my questions. And so...on to the interview!
LG: Tell me a little about your background--how you came to work at LI and how long you've been working there.
CG: I started out in the television industry and worked up from being a junior designer to being the Art Director of a national tv station – where I was responsible for all of the branding and advertising.
I moved from there to an Ad agency in Bermuda. From there I came to Harlequin, where one of the book lines that I work on is Love Inspired Historical. I've been here for 2 years.
LG: Can you tell us a little about the process of designing a book cover? I know as an author, I submit a lot of data to LI about my characters, scenes they're in together, and even do a photo montage to help artists visualize my characters.
|Here's the studio shot for the cover of the Temporary Betrothal.|
Used with Carolyn Graziani's approval.
CG: Myself and the editors have a creative brief meeting to discuss which scene we feel will work best for the cover. Once we have decided that, I take your reference images and I use them to source stock photography that will be the background of the covers. Once I find the background I want to use, I do a sketch of the hero and heroine doing whatever was described in the scene (i.e. Taking a walk in a field) and place it over the background stock image. From there, I circulate the concepts to Marketing and Editorial dept's for approval.
Once approved, I send to my photographer who begins to source model options for me. I try to find models who match character descriptions as closely as possible. I also work with a wardrobe stylist to source the clothing as described in the scene selection. I then shoot all 4 covers in a day in a photographers studio downtown. Once I have chosen my image (from about 600!) I send that to a digital finisher, who takes the hero and heroine and adds them to the background image. He also adds painterly effects in photoshop to give it a painterly feel.
|And here, the final product.|
LG: Where are your artists located--in New York or all over the world?
CG: I am based in Toronto and my photographer and digital finishers are here in Toronto too.
LG: Is everything done digitally, or is there a physical mock-up of the cover?
CG: Everything is pretty much done digitally, except for my initial sketch that I pop onto the cover as I mentioned earlier.
LG: What, to you, makes a good book cover?
CG: First and foremost, there has to be a 'connection' between the hero and heroine. I look carefully over the many photos I get for each cover for the one that I feel has a real emotional presence. The finishing is important too – it needs to be at a very high level, and it should never be obvious that the hero and heroine were put onto a stock background.
LG: What's the cover you feel most proud of?
It's actually one of yours! I really liked how The Temporary Betrothal turned out.
LG: As a side note, that cover actually took second place in the Judge a Book By Its Cover content sponsored by the Houston Bay Area RWA!
CG: I also really like Colorado Courtship and the Mail Order Holiday Brides covers.
LG: What was the first cover you ever designed?
CG: My first cover was The Cowboy Tutor, by Linda Ford.
I'd like to say thank you to Carolyn for agreeing to this interview, and thank you to both Carolyn and her entire department for creating such beautiful, opulent covers. Without their magic, our books would be quite plain, indeed.
And now, I'd like to reveal the cover for my third book, Healing the Soldier's Heart. It's coming out in August 2013 but is available for pre-order through all the major retailers or through the Love Inspired website.
Healing the Soldier's Heart
Ensign James Rowland was fortunate to return from Waterloo unscathed--at least in body. But guilt from that terrible battle has left him almost mute and crushed in spirit. Only in the company of sweet, compassionate Lucy Williams, a volunteer in the Veteran's Group in Bath, does he begin to feel that happiness is within reach.
Penniless governesses can't afford dreams of romance. Lucy Williams is resigned to lifelong spinsterhood--until James enters her life. His mother opposes the match. Lucy herself is sure the chasm between their ranks is too wide. But now that she has helped heal James, he intends to overcome every obstacle between them...and emerge victorious in the battle for her love.
As a celebration, I am giving away two autographed advance copies of Healing the Soldier's Heart today. Enter a comment below to win, and be sure to include your email address!