Maybe I'm peculiar, but when I read a book, I expect to come across
the scene on the cover, and I feel vaguely cheated if it is not there.
I'm not so bothered if the cover is an artistic grouping of
artifacts, although... if there's a bejewelled dagger and a lace
doily, I suppose that I do expect them to be used to good effect in
Please do not misunderstand me. I'm not criticizing anyone's cover
or art department. I am simply sharing my inner thoughts about
covers in general, and my gut reaction to the gorgeous cover of my
next book... and the hazards of hasty research.
The colors are fabulous, and the artwork is sexy. I couldn't ask for
a better looking cover (unless I was absolutely out of my mind).
It's just a little more "romancy" than I had in mind.
An author friend who is a bit of an expert on cover psychology says
that I should tell readers, especially male readers, to ignore the
cover. But should I?
My gut instinct is that if the scene is on the cover but not in the
book, then I have to --somehow-- write the scene and beg my editor to
fit it in. Is that extreme?
If only they'd given me a bare-chested hunk staring out to sea (face
not visible, so his features could not be wrong) or up to his waist
in the ocean... I should have suggested that! I'm not blaming the
Art Department at all. I was warned that I could not have a hunk in
underpants out of respect for buyers' fine sensibilities.
Anyway, how many cover models would want INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL
displayed boldly across their groins?
Verisimilitude is important, and there are times when you just cannot
ask your more exhibitionist friends to commit an illegal act and tell
you how it felt.
Illegal? Well I think you can be pinched for doing the deed on a
In case any members of the law enforcement community are reading this
with professional interest, I must disclose at this point that the
sea was too cold for my husband.
Suffice it to say that my scrupulous --and ingenious-- attempts at
research took longer than expected. Either the tide was wrong (too
far in or out), or the waves were too mighty, or too placid, or the
sand was too gritty, or the light was wrong....
On the last day of my time by the sea, when my bags were packed and
it really wasn't convenient to get my costume wet again, my dear
husband and our child decided that despite the low tide, and a stiff
onshore breeze, it might be fun to experience the surge of surf.
My mother went to get towels from the car, and we splashed into the
North Sea (English Channel) to join dozens of screaming bathers and
people surfing on one sort of board or another.
August. Low tide, but only a seven foot drop, not like the nine foot
range one gets at the full moon or with the spring tides. For a
month I'd watched the shallows at low tide for signs of sinister
movement. That day... I forgot.
I did get to refresh my memory of whether there is any difference
between the feel of sun-warmed masculine, muscled skin in cold
seawater (as opposed to in a fresh water bath, shower, or chlorinated
swimming pool) but it's not useable.
Not worth the risk.
If anyone in my immediate family had to step on a weaver fish, I'm
glad it was me. I have very high arches, and go barefoot a lot.
Thanks to that, only one spine got me, and it broke off before it
could deliver much of the excruciating neurotoxin.
Knowing what had stung me, I flicked off the spine, got out of the
water, got home as quickly as possible (luckily it was not far), and
immersed my throbbing foot in the washing up bowl filled with water
as hot as I could bear. And epsom salts. And more water.
That's what you do to draw out the poison, if you are unfortunate
enough to step on a weaver fish or lesser weaver fish. They are
spined, venomous little predators (they eat prawns, I believe) who
like to bury themselves all but the spines in sand when the water is
Keeping the water as hot as possible until the pain was gone meant
regular top ups. My dear husband was especially enthusiastic about
this, and had no compunction about tipping very hot water onto my
toes (the arch area was what needed it). I noticed an odd thing.
Near boiling water feels almost cold for the first second or two as
it is added to hot water. Then the brain resets, and registers that
the water is very hot.
I didn't even limp the next day, as I lugged (schlepped) my little
family's three heavy suitcases from Guernsey, to Gatwick, to
Detroit. I was lucky.
I'm glad to have my feet under my desk again.
I hope your summer holidays have been fabulous!