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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Designing Woman


When James Garcia Jr. approached me about doing a cover for his paranormal romance, “Seeing Ghosts”, I was giddy with anticipation. I had read the excerpt he posted on his blog and studied his short synopsis, reading it over and over again, trying to get a “feel” for the story.

Usually, I have to convince my clients that their covers shouldn’t be a laundry list of things they think are important. A cover should be spare of ornamentation. You want it to incorporate only the most essential things to convey emotion, genre, and story. But I didn’t have to do any convincing with Jimmy. He was open to anything I had in mind.

Almost immediately, I knew how the cover should look.


I was taken with the idea of a dead wife and a man not quite ready to let her go. It was personal and it was surreal. Losing a mate is soul-wrenching and I wanted to convey that overwhelming sadness of the living, and the otherworldliness of the Afterlife.

I must confess, the model I used for Seeing Ghosts was someone I was keeping for myself. I loved everything her body language and expression said, and everything it didn’t say. I hoped I might be able to use her in one of my future novels. But when I read Jimmy’s synopsis, I knew that model belonged to him. It was as if she was made for his story.

The house (seen in the print version of the book) was a different matter. Jimmy had renderings of the house he had in mind and it took me quite a while to locate a few suitable candidates. We finally agreed on one house, but it was in terrible disrepair—far worse than the way it was described in the novel. This house was going to need some major renovation.

Luckily for Jimmy, I know a thing or two about remodeling houses—and Photoshop. When I was done, the house had regained all its siding, a new door, a solid roof, and no busted windows. If only real renovations went so easily.

The foreground, background, and sky were another matter. I needed atmosphere to create that otherworldly feeling to complement the stark reality of overgrown weeds and the specter of crosses.

The title was probably the hardest to conceive. I needed something simple, while reinforcing the “ghostly” theme. What better device than to make one word solid and corporeal and the second word at the edge of ghosting out.

There’s a misconception that all a good cover needs is to slap the right photos together, but that’s not usually the case. This particular cover required twenty-six layers of elements. There are very few covers I’ve designed that don’t require at least a dozen or more layers to get the look I want.

A good cover should create an emotional response. It has to make you want to STOP and take another look. I’d like to think I accomplished that with “Seeing Ghosts”.

I tease Jimmy Garcia that he was a lot of trouble, but in truth, I adore him. He trusted my instincts and advice and allowed me to create this for him.

The official release date of "Seeing Ghosts" is June 2nd so put this book on your “buy” list. You won’t be disappointed.

Do you have any questions about cover art? Any secrets you’re dying to know? I’m ready to tell-all.

 ***

Need a cover of your own? You can find more information about me and my work at Book Cover Diva.

  

23 comments:

Cate Masters said...

Oo, that's gorgeous Maria. Love it. And I love the premise too, Jimmy. Best of luck with the book.

Mike Keyton said...

This is a wonderful advert for both of you and the story behind it is fascinating. It's a cliche 'thanks for sharing' but I mean it.

James Garcia Jr. said...

And stop they do. Believe me!
Thank you yet again for doing such a superb and masterful job of putting a face on the book that the muse gave me. *grins* The whole project just has this magical component to it that none of my other books had. The story came to me quickly, it has all the elements that I love about story-telling, and in spite of the fact that I had so many other things to do - it only took about a year for it to come to life and be ready to be shared.
Maria, you are very sweet to say these things. I adore you right back! I am incredibly pleased with this beautiful cover, but I am blessed to call you friend.
*hugs*

-Jimmy

E.J. Wesley said...

Fantastic cover, Maria! Truly love it. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Cate: Thanks! I credit Jimmy Garcia. I just interpreted what he wrote into pictures.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: I'm always fascinated by behind the scene stories. I figured if I liked it, I'm sure someone else would too.

Maria Zannini said...

Jimmy: Back at you, buddy. :o)

It didn't hurt that I'm a softie for ghost stories, and yours went right for the heart.

Maria Zannini said...

EJ: Thanks, hon!

Stacy McKitrick said...

I really love this cover, too. You can tell a lot of work (and love) went into making it. Jimmy is lucky to have found you!

Angela Brown said...

Maria, I've adored your work on all your covers. This one is no exception. You captured the elements of the here and now and the otherworldliness. It's beautiful.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Stunning cover. There's so much story in it that I knew Jimmy had to be a great storyteller to convey that to you as the designer, Maria.

As always, I'm fascinated at the behind the scenes peek. The process of design is so mysterious. The importance of that process is obvious in the result :)

Maria Zannini said...

Stacy: I love what I do. It's as simple as that. :)

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: Thanks. :)

I'm surprised people are so complimentary. --Not that there's anything wrong with that. LOL.

I just thought more people would have questions about design in general.

Maria Zannini said...

Jenny: I have a tendency to read between the lines, but I always ask the author if I'm on the right track.

Sometimes it's what isn't said that speaks the loudest.

Giacomo Giammatteo said...

Great cover, Maria. I love it! And Jimmy, she also did a great job on my newest book. Talented lady.

Maria Zannini said...

Giacomo: Thanks, Jim. I'm still waiting for permission to show off your cover. :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

This cover is a knock-out. LOve it.

I know a good cover is hard to do because I see a lot that look "pieced together".

Sarah Ahiers said...

I still love this cover. I would definitely pick it up just on the cover alone

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: It hurts me when I see a bad cover. It hurts me more because new authors are so proud of them--or at least they say so in public.

Maria Zannini said...

Sarah:
Re: I would definitely pick it up just on the cover alone.

LOL. My work is done. Thanks.

Anne Gallagher said...

Wowwee! That cover is gorgeous!! Congrats Jimmy. Way to go Maria.

Maria Zannini said...

Thanks, Anne. It was a pleasure to create.

raelynbarclay said...

Holy Wow...amazing cover. You nailed it.

Congrats on the release James!