Whenever I do a signing, a book fair, or a school visit, people ask me about my book covers. Who makes them? How are they chosen? Do I help draw them? Do I design them? Do I get to say yes or no about which cover gets used?
My answers are I don’t always know, I definitely don’t always know, No (no stick people, right?), Definitely no, and No. Seriously, most authors have very little say in our titles, much less our covers. Bloomsbury and my editor have been kind to me, asking me what I think, and sometimes redirecting if I truly hate something. That’s not what usually happens in the print publishing world.
Creating cover art that will grab attention and help to sell books is its own profession, totally separate from my scribbling and storytelling. In fact, in the computer age, it’s downright awe-inspiring. The studio that created the cover for Beyond the Wall, the essay collection focused on George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, which contains my essay The Brutal Cost of Redemption in Westeros, or WHAT Moral Ambiguity?, put out a time-lapse video about it.
This shows what it takes to make a single book cover–and this wasn’t even the cover that got chosen! Give it a look, and be amazed.
“Permit me to remind you that a very small size has been bestowed on us Mice, and if we did not guard our dignity, some (who weigh worth by inches) would allow themselves very unsuitable pleasantries at our expense.”
Reepicheep the High Mouse offers these words to Aslan in C.S. Lewis’s Prince Caspian.
Read my essay It’s the Little Things — for free at Smartpop through Tuesday, November 27 — and see if you agree.
Bereft because HBO’s Game of Thrones is between seasons?
Miserable because George R.R. Martin’s next Song of Ice and Fire installment is still a figment of his imagination?
Pick up a copy of Beyond the Wall, read the essays, and argue with our opinions!
Beyond the Page
My essay in the collection, The Brutal Cost of Redemption in Westeros . . . or WHAT Moral Ambiguity, ended up being a journey I never expected to take. I had intended to write an in-depth exploration of Jaime Lannister, one of the more complex Noble Demons in modern literature. From aggressively negative and evil to more neutral character undergoing hardship to possible hero-in-the-making, Jamie’s fascinating path to possible redemption has been incredibly interesting to me. I never imagined I could like the guy. Seriously. If I had been a hero in a role-playing game, Jamie Lannister would have been my first target for slaughter. Now, many books and events down the road, I might stand beside him and draw my sword to defend him. The Kingslayer is one of many layered and nuanced characters in Westeros, and in tracing his development for the essay, I kept coming upon articles discussing the “moral ambiguity” present in George R.R. Martin’s world, like James L. Sutter’s guest essay in Suvudu.
I realized I had never perceived Martin’s Westeros as morally ambiguous–rather the opposite. To me, as the books progressed, the cosmology seemed to be clear-cut and even merciless, though based in different definitions of right and wrong than we use here in our world. In my opinion, good and evil in the land of Ice and Fire takes its definition from the inexorable reality that winter is coming, and with it horrors beyond imagination, and harsh threats to the survival of humanity itself. “Good,” then, is whatever will help people stay alive, and “evil” is anything that makes survival less likely. When that filter is applied, who sorts where on the good-evil axis has little to do with protagonist/antagonist/contagonist dynamics, and even less to do with rooting interests and who would be considered “good” in this world. In fact, the results of using this type of filter to explore morality in Westeros may surprise many readers. Who is walking the Summer Path toward redemption and survival? Who is taking the Winter Path toward division, chaos, and destruction? Check out the essay and form your own opinions.
And now for the good stuff! A giveaway! Leave me a comment that doesn’t constitute spam, and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a copy of Beyond the Wall—on me! I’ll even spring for international shipping if you win, though I’m not promising to get it to Bora Bora overnight, you understand. I’ll draw from all responses I get by 9:00pm CST, June 27, 2012. Don’t worry if your comment doesn’t appear immediately. I have to approve them all, and I do have a day job!
Here’s a bit of fun for everyone:
For die-hard fans, there’s always the HBO adaptation to tide us over until Winds of Winter makes it to the shelves . . . and now we have this, too!
Come on. Give it a click to find out more. You know you want to.