All About the Art
I’m only half-joking when I say I write for the cover art. For me, art is an integral part of storytelling. A great cover tells the reader exactly what kind of story to expect and a lot of what the story is about. Think about your favorite books and their covers.
My personal favorite of cover for my books is the one Adrian Nicholas did for Captive Heart. The heroine of the story is a captive princess, but the cover conveys so much of what the story contains: innocence, strength, elegance, and imperial power. Also it’s lovely. The photo shows the portrait-sized version currently hanging in my writing space.
In that same universe is this commissioned image I intended to use as a cover for a book that, alas, I might never publisher because it was stolen by a plagiarist. I don’t have the heart to rewrite it, yet anyway… but isn’t the image beautiful? Elena Dudina did an amazing job with my shapeshifter heroine and her mate.
Beyond covers, though, I love to commission artwork for swag and… just because. As a writer, I’m undeniably visual. I love imagery. The image I have in my head of, say, one of my characters, is not set in stone. Inspirations abound. There’s no one model or actor who I can look at and say, “That’s him! (Or her.)” I adore artists’ interpretations.
Take my favorite of all commissioned images, this one by Lan Wang for Thick as Thieves. Every time I look at it, I smile, and I hope my readers do too. Doesn’t Vorgell look happy at the prospect of battle? And Madd could not look crankier about it. The book in a nutshell. I hand it out as a postcard with giveaways and at conventions. A few readers have asked me to have the boys sign it, which Vorgell does with a giant V.
Compare that the postcard version with that of the beautiful cover by Anne Cain, which presents a more traditional, realistic vision of the characters. Both types of image nail my characters.
After my cancer setback, I didn’t have many books coming out, so nothing to commission, but I recently got back into the writing (and artwork) saddle with a couple of pieces for my story “After the Wind,” which is in the Once Upon a Time in the Weird West anthology. Here’s Lex Chase’s rendition of two of the story’s elemental characters. They’re young, they’re hot… they have unique obstacles when it comes to love and lovemaking. I will be handing out these postcards in future giveaways.
Artwork includes more than illustrations. For Thieves I also commissioned a few custom ceramic basilisk mugs, two handmade posable shoulder basilisks, and some amazing custom wallets and jewelry.
Commissioning artwork is fun. Not all authors can afford to commission artwork, but I think more (authors and readers or blogs) should consider it. If an established artist is out of your price-range, try a newbie. I found Lan Wang on deviantArt at a time he was taking commissions to make money to go to art school in Paris. I ordered the shoulder basilisks from a vendor I met at GenCon who was just starting out.
Tali Spencer delights in erotic fantasy and adventure, creating worlds where she can explore the heights and shadows of sexual passion. A hopeful romantic and lover of all things exotic, she also writes high fantasy and science fiction. If you would like to see inspiration pictures for her characters, or glimpse how she envisions her worlds, check out her Pinterest boards.
Tali’s books include the Pride of Uttor series: Captive Heart, Dangerous Beauty, Adored, and Victory Portrait, all with Resplendence. Her gay male high fantasy stories, Thick as Thieves, Sorcerer’s Knot, and The Prince of Winds, are published by Dreamspinner Press. She often publishes in anthologies, and puts up free stories and excerpts on her blog.