Tuesday, March 22, 2005

More on cover art

I was right, I'm not actually included in the cover art meeting, but my editor was kind enough to solicit comments from me regarding my preferences for both artist and scene. I spent some time last night looking through the book for scenes that I thought would work well as cover illustrations, then wrote a brief description of each and the page number in an e-mail back to her. I came up with ten images in all. Some were dynamic "action" scenes, while others showed some of the unique landscapes and "sense of wonder" images from the book. I also threw out some names of a couple of artists I like, such as Gary Ruddell, Steve Stone, Keith Parkinson, and a few others.

My favorite image is one they probably won't use. There is a statue described in the book called "Death of a Son," a symbolic representation of the long lives of wizards that they cannot share with anyone else. They will remain unchanged for several centuries while their loved ones grow old and die. Here's the description of the statue:

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The statue rose seven feet above the pedestal and depicted a father carrying the limp corpse of his son, one arm beneath the boy’s back, the other beneath his knees. The father cradled his son gently, lovingly, a boy of five or six, whose head rested against his father’s chest, his eyes closed, his lips slack. The boy’s left arm lay across his abdomen; his right hung limply, the fingers relaxed, and Gerin could imagine it swaying lifelessly as the father carried him away from the place where he had died (for surely that must be what was shown, he thought). The dead child wore a sleeveless tunic and trousers that reached only to mid-calf; his feet were bare. The son had no wound or blight upon him, no visible injury that could have caused his death. Indeed, he could easily have been sleeping except for the expression on his father’s face. It was etched with anguish and pain, a sorrow so deep and penetrating it seemed he must collapse at any moment from the crushing weight of it. His head was tilted back, looking skyward; his eyes were wide and imploring, and looked so close to spilling tears that Gerin half-expected to see water begin to pour down his white cheeks. The father’s lips were parted slightly, as if he were attempting to speak but could not find the strength for his voice. His hair was swept back from his face by an unseen wind, which billowed the cloak that fell from his shoulders.

“It’s both beautiful and terrible,” said Reshel in the same whispery tone.

“This is ‘Death of a Son,’” said Hollin. He too spoke softly, and with a reverence in his voice Gerin had not heard from him before. “It is my favorite sculpture in all of Hethnost. Many find it morbid and avoid it, and in some ways it is, but I find it heart-wrenchingly sad, and beautiful as well, as you said, Reshel. It was made by a wizard named Eredhel Anyakul after his own son drowned in one of the cisterns here. He never sculpted again after this was finished, and in fact went mad a few years later and lived out his days in the uppermost room of the Derasdi Tower.” He pointed to a solitary square spire near the foot of the ramp that led to the Khalabrendis Dhosa. “He allowed food and water to be brought to him, but received no visitors and spoke to no one. They knew he was alive only by the lights in the tower and the empty trays left outside the door each morning.” He looked at the statue and folded his arms. “I’ve always imagined that the father is about to speak the name of his son, but that his grief is simply too great to overcome.”

“It seems to me his is going to ask why?” said Reshel. “Why was my child taken from me? Who will answer for it? He’s looking to the gods, but his question is met only with silence and a voiceless wind.”

“I like that,” said the wizard. “I’ve also thought this was a potent symbol for wizards and our inability to pass our powers and long lives to our children. I think that’s why so many of us are troubled by it; it’s too sad a reminder of what we can never share.”

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There are some other images that would make good covers, but I think this one captures the melancholy that is at the heart of the book. I'll let you know how things develop.

2 comments:

Simon Haynes said...

Nice description and powerful imagery. I think it would make an awesome cover, but the publisher might feel it was too strong or doom-laden. Depends what the marketing people say ;-)

A very minor nit, but just in case it isn't picked up later; "the emtpy trays left" should be 'empty'

(You can tell I've been proofing for about 2 weeks. They still leap out at me!)

Scalljah said...

At 5 past Tuesday
celebral lunatics
talking of relevance
on the art boards in cyberspace
gather sound,
claiming to make the patterns of exchange
they create
into a number of truths
which frame a commitment
to concrete expression
by anchoring sense in earth bound images
within the context of modernity

I listen
transfixed
hypnotised

by the weight of voices

and
test a theory
of how
to picture
meaning

by measuring
the relative
length
of each syllable

with its syntatic sense
and
the
degree
of assonance
cossanance
and
alliterative value
when
spoke
to
life
by
a
poet’s breath