Archive for July, 2010
by Jonathan on July 18th, 2010
A German reader let me know that the German edition of A Hard Death is now available for pre-order, with an October publication date. Droemer-Knaur have given the book a snappy new title, and used a cover that recaptures the graphic spirit of their edition of Precious Blood (German title: Martyrium).
I like the cover, and am entertained by the new title, TORTUR, the English translation of which is – I’m going out on a limb here- TORTURE.
I don’t think I quite appreciate how brutal my books are in the eyes of some readers. I’m fairly matter of fact about violence – I approach violent death with scientific detachment, a detachment essential for understanding the facts of a homicide without being distracted by my emotional reactions to its brutality. My life as a forensic pathologist involves extreme contrasts – torture, murder, Bach, lobster; in my writing, I try to present that collision of sudden, unspeakable violence with everyday life.
Anyway, welcome, TORTUR!
I just wonder what the hell they’ll call Jenner 4, now that they’ve already used TORTUR…
by Jonathan on July 6th, 2010
By curious coincidence, just after I’d blathered on about my book covers, Goran Alfred from Bra Bocker, who are publishing the Swedish edition of Precious Blood, sent me the cover he’d designed. This is another cover that’s more about graphic design than illustration; it has a visceral quality that’s quite bracing, but I really like it.
I told Goran it reminded me tonally/texturally of one of my favourite video game series, the survival horror franchise called Silent Hill. Since he’s not a gamer, I sent him a clip of the game. I’m just realizing he never replied – I hope he wasn’t offended by the comparison! I better check…
by Jonathan on July 2nd, 2010
I’ve just learned that the U.S. publication date for A Hard Death will be April 12, 2011; I don’t understand the complexities of publishing, and have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed that it’s taking so long to come out here. I’m going to do my best to make sure that the third book, tentatively titled City of Rust, arrives a little more promptly.
The delay is actually a bonus: I’m using the time to tighten and polish. There’s an old writing adage that “a novel is never finished, it’s abandoned” – it’s a real luxury to have the time to touch up an already “abandoned” project…
I really like both the new US hardcover jacket for A Hard Death (above) and the paperback cover for last year’s UK release. The two covers are carefully designed, reflecting local taste and the practicalities of marketing a book on a bookshelf – I suspect that the UK cover wouldn’t have played as well with US readers as it did with those in the UK.
The US cover for A Hard Deathis more literal, a watery swamp forest bathed in a golden red glow; that intense colour will make the book “pop” on the shelf. Unlike the clean, urbane font used for the US Precious Blood jacket, where the story was set largely in New York City, the designer has gone with a battered, almost Western/vintage-style font that, by coincidence or design, evokes the UK cover, particularly the font used for my name.
The UK cover is visually edgier, bristling with visceral style. It’s of a piece with the UK cover for Precious Blood, which reminded me of blood spatter on an abatoir floor. For the new book, the concrete has been swapped out for an impressionistic backdrop of light filtering into a clearing through rotted trees, perfect for the Florida Everglades setting of A Hard Death. Since it’s a paperback, and smaller than a hardcover, the title and author name are much larger, easily legible across the bookshop.
I have to admit that my initial reaction to the UK cover for Precious Blood was a little like one of those movie scenes where a character is sitting for hours, having her portrait painted. The bearded, beatnik artist paints furiously, eyes flicking repeatedly from subject to canvas as he captures her likeness in minute detail. Finally, he pronounces the work a finished masterpiece. The sitter approaches the canvas only to discover that it is an incomprehensible mess of drips and spatters. After my initial surprise, I quickly grew to like the cover – I think it’s very effective, the style working well at a gut level to convey the brutality and violence of serial murder. I did feel that, while the design captured the book’s urban mayhem, I peronally saw Precious Blood in very deep rich colours, full of expressive, nuanced visual detail; to me, the UK cover felt a little reductive, the story distilled to blood on concrete. I think I liked the UK cover for A Hard Death better both because it was more literal and more organic (yeah, the trees may be dead, but, still – trees!), and also because I had a clearer idea of what to expect.
I really loved the very direct cover for the German edition of Precious Blood. The Gothic text works really well, I think; indeed, I was a little surprised by how much I liked the simple, graphic style. Note that they decided to go with another title – Precious Blood has, I believe, richer connotations in English than in German.
The Dutch cover kind of baffled me – I won’t tell you what I thought it was the first time I saw it! But I do love the title in Dutch; my first unaccompanied trip as a kid was to the Netherlands, and I hold a special place for the country in my heart.
There were a couple more editions in German. This one was for the Austrian market – quite chaste in comparison with the second German edition that follows it! Note: the book is not this tiny in real life…
This is the cover of the most recent German edition. In her review of Precious Blood, USA Today critic Carol Memmott was kind enough to use the phrase “nail-biting masterpiece”, but they captioned the cover photo “like a literary equivalent of horror flick Saw“! Those of you who know me know I’m too much of a wuss to ever watch that film…
Anyway, yes, this cover looks like it would be perfect for the literary equivalent of horror flick Saw…
Finally, my friend Kevin Krooss had his own ideas about how the Precious Blood cover should look:
Of course, when Kevin learned there would be a Swedish edition, he couldn’t resist having a crack at that, too…