Behind the book cover

Anyone who used to read my posts on Trashionista will know that I’m a little bit obsessed with book covers. The good, the bad and the ugly; how they get chosen and designed and how the authors feel about them. And why (oh why) does fiction by women get stuck with inappropriately childlike, insipid, or ‘romantic’ cover art?

For example, take a look at the cover of Hearts and Minds by Rosy Thornton.

It pastel-coloured, splattered with flowers and has a bird carrying a heart. Would you guess that this is thoughtful novel, focused on a women-only Cambridge college and the politics of Oxbridge-entrance? In short, it’s a classic campus novel, in the same vein as David Lodge, and the cover loses readers who would love the book, while irritating those who buy it expecting a light, romantic read.

(For more on this, see Marie Phillips’ wonderful rant).

Anyway, it’s no surprise that I loved the inside story on the cover design for Joshilyn Jackson’s Gods in Alabama. It’s a wonderful book – go buy it right now – and an example of how wonderful cover art can be. Joshilyn reveals the true extent of author involvement (very, very little – and that’s if you’re lucky) and gives a sneak peek of the cover for her forthcoming book A Grownup Kind of Pretty (don’t get too excited, it’s not out until January 2012). Hop over the cut to see it.

I don’t usually like female figures with their heads cut off (a troublesome trend in cover art) but I love how striking this image is, and the way it hints at the decay at the heart of the springtime freshness with the browning of the cut apple.

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