Upon waking up Tuesday morning, I noticed an email in my inbox. Surprised, and ecstatic, to see that it was an email from Siren BookStrand with attachments of the cover of my January release, An Amorous Dance, I, of course, dropped what I was working on to check them out. What a treat! I fell instantly in love with the cover, which was everything I was hoping it would be and more. A spotlight appears on the characters, who are performing on stage, a spotlight which shows off an array of vibrant colors that play off of the heroine, Hannah’s, red hair. Hannah is almost exactly as I envisioned her, though perhaps even more like herself than in the image I provided my publisher, and the hero, Evan, is…not exactly as I envisioned him. Evan’s hair and eye color are close enough to those of the hero in my mind, as are his height and his build. But this new version of Evan seems to take on a persona all his own, one which—as I admired my new cover ad nauseum—I found myself falling in love with as though I was seeing him for the first time. It was as though Evan had been given a new face, one equally handsome to the one I had imagined for him, one from which a whole new series of fantasies spurred.
I once asked a friend of mine how she envisions the hero when she reads a romance novel. I asked her, “Do you picture someone you know, or an actor (as I often do), or do you try to envision him based upon the description the author provides?” She answered me, “I don’t know. I guess I picture the guy I see on the cover.” I’ll admit I’ve done this myself, often times unintentionally, because it’s easy to imagine that the images we see on the cover are the “real” hero and heroine. As readers, we’re encouraged to see them as such. There is nothing wrong with doing this, and in fact, it’s the only visual image that we’re actually given for a book, with the possible exception of a back cover image, or insert. But as a woman who finds herself on both the author side, and reader side of the spectrum, and one who has imagined the hero one way and then seen him in an entirely different light upon receiving her cover, alternatively, as a reader who has seen the hero depicted one way on a book cover and envisioned him a whole different way in my mind, I see covers as providing a different way of looking at a hero, different, rather than, perhaps, the “only” way.
As a reader, I often find myself envisioning actors I know, “playing” the various parts in a story. I do this when I write as well. My reason for following this pattern of behavior is that I know the sound of the actors voices as well as what they look like, and having a start-off point, complete with the sounds of voices allows me to get into a story faster. As a romance novelist as well as a romance reader, I am looking to fall in love. I want to be swept off my feet by the hero and in order for this to happen I must envision a man I can swoon over. A hero who fits the bill is 100% unique to each individual reader. That said, I suspect I’m not the only reader who takes liberties when I read a story, envisions a hero tailored to my particular desires versus always taking the hero on the cover verbatim, as though the requirement to do so is a hard and fast rule.
But sometimes in life we’re given a surprise. And in the world of fiction, ‘surprise’ is just another day in the park! Try as I might, there are those times where the image on the front cover takes precedence in my mind. The author has described her hero so vividly, and the image on the cover has been depicted so beautifully, that the image provided comes to life before me and a whole new line of fantasies takes shape. After spending months creating the character of Evan Masters, imagining that he’d look and sound something like actor Callum Blue, a new fantasy was then born when I received my cover, and saw the image of a swoon-worthy hero who quickly took precedence in my imagination. I’ve learned to take inspiration from wherever it comes, but also to appreciate the pleasant surprises in life, of which there are many. I look much forward to rereading An Amorous Dance with my new Evan Masters at the forefront of my mind!
An Amorous Dance Releases January 2017!