I am talking to a couple of artists about creating a cover image for Conjuring Raine. This is really fun, and also ridiculously stressful. But anyway, the current idea has both Raine and Joshua on it, and thus, I’m having to explain something of what they should look like, beyond the deliberately vague physical descriptions I wrote in the book, and, well, it’s hard. Hard, I tell you.
I make physical descriptions in my books pretty vague because I want readers to fill in the blanks on that. Also because a character, to me, is what’s on the inside, not the outside. A few cues on clothes and general hair comments and I pretty much leave it at that. Raine is early 20s, starts the book with long (unspecified how long) multi-colored hair (due to a bad break-up), has pale-ish skin and ‘dark’ (brown? black?) eyes. She wears a lot of black. Joshua thinks she’s pretty and she can wear his jeans, which says something about her size, since he is described as fairly skinny. But that’s it. That’s what we know about what she looks like.
Have you listened to the book? Did you have a picture in your head more specific than that?
Of course, for an artist to actually draw/paint/render-in-some-way-visible an image of Raine, it has to be a lot more specific. Okay, she’s pretty enough—but how pretty? How does she stand? How big are her boobs? Are her teeth straight? Exactly how long and how thick and how curly/straight is her hair? How close together are her eyes? Etc.
ARRG! I don’t know!
I’ve taken to combing the net for photos. Stock photo warehouses, google-image searches, stills from movies I’ve seen with characters who kinda sorta look right. At this point I kind of think of Raine as being a paler, less pretty (or less groomed) Nora Jones. Maybe. You know that kind of mixed-race look. Only not as confident. And no heels.
But really, some other face could work. It just isn’t one of those thin, intelligent, sharp faces. She’s rounder to me, more emotional of feature. And, I suppose, it’s my book cover, so I get to pick.
But Joshua? Well, shoot, I practically describe him as ugly in the book, while still trying to write him as kind of hot, so hows that going to work made flesh? I knew this guy a decade ago, a passing acquaintance, who had this super thick, straight blond hair, came to about his shoulder tops, cut blunt, that he wore slicked back into a stump of hair at the nape of his neck. He had that super translucence to his skin, too, the kind that turns bright red in the cheeks when he got mad. I always thought of Joshua looking like that, I have no idea why. Only Joshua is awkward and weird, where that guy was pretty charming. I can’t find any pictures of a guy like that to show cover artists. I mean, Joshua is stuck at 19 and he came from Eastern North Carolina almost 200 years ago—he’s got to be kind of…plain. Made interesting by his personality and the whole vampire thing, but still, there are no male-models native to Eastern North Carolina for a reason.
No offense to any Easter North Carolinian dudes! It’s just a different kind of face is all. And typical book-cover face is not what Joshua looks like. To me. In my head. If that even matters. Which, maybe it doesn’t.
Because you can’t put a plain looking guy on a book cover, can you? And anyway probably lots of readers don’t see him in their heads as plain. Raine doesn’t see him as plain, but of course, she doesn’t care what he looks like. Hm.Maybe I’d sell more books with a Californian guy on the cover? Like maybe that Smith from Sex and the City, he had a blond pony tail and a kind of bony face.
No, no! says a voice in my head. Joshua DOES NOT LOOK LIKE THAT.
Fine, I say back to the voice. What does he look like then? And be specific, please.
What to do, what to do. I need a photo of a guy with a kind of bony face, too tall and skinny, super intense expression, with super thick blond hair, blunt chopped at the shoulders. Yeah, right. I’ll get right on that.
Any of you listened to Raine? Got any star-casting suggestions for character looks? Cause I’m all out.