Sunday, May 07, 2006


I love it when I get a romance cover that makes me smile when I open the box. One with a hero who looks old enough, worldly enough, dangerous enough to live up to the role I’ve given him.

Unlike many authors, I rarely work from a photograph, never use a actor as role model for instance, but as soon as I saw this man in a photographic magazine, I knew I had found my “sheikh” so, when my editor, needing advance stuff for the cover of The Sheikh’s Guarded Heart, asked for my “vision” of my hero, my setting, I sent her this photograph, along with a lot of other stuff (including a postcard of T E Lawrence, which I bought at the National Portrait Gallery).

As you can imagine, I had high hopes. Sheikh Hanif was strong, powerful, a superb horseman, a poet.

Naturally, his first encounter with Lucy Forrester was not promising: --

‘Hold still, I’ve got you.’
She heard the words, but they didn’t penetrate the thinking part of her brain as she fought to break free.
‘Don’t move!’
It wasn’t the harsh order that shocked her into motionless silence, or the fierce, hawk-like features of the man who gave it. It was the gleaming knife blade, so close to her face that she could almost taste the metal at the back of her throat.

Make a note of that. “... fierce, hawk-like features...”

Later, I wrote this:

‘I remember you,’ she said.
Even without the keffiyeh wound about his face she knew the dark fierce eyes, chiselled cheekbones, the hawkish, autocratic nose that had figured so vividly in her dreams.
Now she could see that his hair was long, thick, tied back at the nape with a dark cord, that only his voice was soft...’

Okay. Underline “hawkish”, add in the chiselled cheekbones, the nose, add in the long, thick hair, tied at the nape.

Got all that?

So how come I’ve got this stranger on my cover? You see him? Short hair (some mousy brown colour), soft face, love handles, nerd shirt?

I would have preferred a sand dune.



wendywoo said...

Why on earth do they bother asking for cover info when they completely ignore it?

Doesn't make sense...

Natasha said...

Oh, Liz ....!

Would it help you to know that I received my hardback copies of 'Accepting The Boss's Proposal' yesterday and you can see right up Jemima's left nostril?

Margaret McDonagh said...

Oh dear, I am sorry, Liz. Are the pictures on the hardback covers usually the same as the paperbacks? I have to say you and Natasha have put the fear into me! I've had some stinker artwork in magazines but this will be my first HMB cover in due course and I am scared! It's a shame as some of the covers are so lovely.


Kate Hardy said...

Ow, Liz. Not what you described (though he isn't actually *that* disgusting - just doesn't fit your description).

Natasha, I hope she blew her nose before the cover pic *g*

My new hardback has what looks like a male firefighter on the cover... except in the book, *she* is the firefigher.

Reckon if we all describe the opposite of our heroes/heroines, we might get what we had in mind?

Fiona Harper said...

You're right, Liz. He doesn't look that dangerous, does he?

Fiona Lowe said...

Sorry you're disappointed, Liz. It's tough when you have such a clear vision of what you want. Sigh, expectations get us into strife.

I just got my first very first cover. She's lovely, it is just I kinda expected a man to be on the cover with her. But Friday was a long time ago and I'm pleased to say my disappointment has faded and today I really like my very first cover....even though I am superimposing Huon next to her in my head every time I look at it :-)

Hope your disappointment fades soon too.

Sharon J said...

Oh dear! They just can't get it right, can they? I think it's part of their trademark - naff covers depicting characters that are nothing like those in the actual story. The guy on your cover actually look rather dishy IMHO, but hardly what you described. Smack hand, HMB!

allyblake said...

He's hunky Liz, but you're right - not quite so hawkish.

We try to be philosophical about these things but it burns every time it doesn't live up to the pictures in our heads.

Eek! My book is out a month after. Cover pending. Nervous, moi?


Liz Fielding said...

Ah, Natasha, the nostril cover. Yes, I had one of those (The Bridesmaid's Reward); she had a moustache as well... It looks as if the September "new" covers are going to be an interesting bunch. For all the wrong reasons.

Covers are always a minefield of authorial emotions. We have such a clear image of what we expect and its so rarely achieved and I was spoilt by my first cover, which was perfect. Pretty much all downhill from there -- g --

Actually, I could have lived with the man, he isn't my vision, but he isn't that bad. It's the shirt...

Kate! Do you think that the artwork people thought the editor had made a mistake? What a croc...

Margaret, I was going to offer reassurance, but following this you clearly wouldn't believe me. The thing is, that your expectations will now be so low that whatever appears will be a relief!

Liz Fielding said...

PS Yes, Margaret, hardback covers are the same as the paperback ones.

Liz Fielding said...

PS again

Fiona, how unusual to have a woman on her own. We went through a phase of men on their own, babies on their own, clearly it is the turn of the woman. At least it will stand out from the rest and hopefully intrigue the reader.

Margaret McDonagh said...

Thanks very much, Liz, for the info. And for the efforts at reassurance! Blessed are they who never expect too much for they shall not be disappointed!!!!!!!!

I think we all feel as we do because the stories and the characters are our babies and mean so much to us. We've lived with them for so long, know them, and someone else's view is never going to match our own. A shame we can't have a choice of a few pictures and have a bit of input.


Dee said...

Oh Liz, lol! Maybe he's the guy she used to love and this cover is the only physical evidence that she ever knew any many but your sheikh? Oy ve, doll, lol. Lets cross our fingers for the US release. :)


odderie said...

Liz, I'm sorry to hear that. :( Your post was very funny, though.

Liz Fielding said...

Dee, if you read the book when it's published and find out the truth about the "guy she used to love" -- and yes, on reflection he does rather resemble the guy on the cover -- you'll understand why that is soooo funny.

Odderie, I'm glad I made you laugh!