Because I see The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow and The Last Dickens as a thematic set, I thought it would be nice if the cover for the latter had some echoes of the others.
As usual, the design team asks if you have any ideas. One scene in my novel takes place in the Thames Tunnel, a massive underground passageway that was quickly abandoned after a frightful history of accidents and disuse.
I found this image above, which I thought might work nicely to adapt as a cover.
Your eye gets caught in the downward swirl, right?
As usual, the design team didn't run with my suggestion. That's okay, they always do come up with something better!
I put out the idea for a challenge: do something without a top hat, since they've become so ubiquitous on covers of historical novels. See how long that lasted.
We were shown a dozen or so concepts. Some are below.
Each of these had an interesting angle artistically and as a relfection of the story of the novel. The one that caught our eye most was the view through the gate and spires.
But the background color, albeit dramatic, overwhelmed. How about a similar tint like the one used on the hardcover for The Dante Club?
Very nice! Some more adjustments to the font and some changes here and there. As with The Poe Shadow, I asked for some red. And I thought we might see more detail in the spire closer to us.
Plus the spine that fits with the other two novels. Dante had "D", Poe "P", this is the "CD" from Dickens's monogram stationery.
We had our cover and, once again, we were all happy with it. Yes, there's a top hat, but not an aggressive one.
As with The Poe Shadow, the cover was hard to shrink to paperback size and retain the flavor we liked.
So we decided to do something different for the upcoming paperback.
Fingerprints. Interesting, dramatic. But more for a modern forensic thriller than a historical thriller. Still, remember the idea of fingerprints.
Here were other designs we looked at.
Common denominator: top hats! The last one above is the ultimate top hat cover.
Here was one a little different:
Remember from the first batch, there was a bundled manuscript. None of us could quite see how to spice it up, but this opened all our minds.
Since the plot of the novel revolves around an incomplete/lost manuscript, we all decided to find a way to make the concept work.
How do you add danger to a bundled manuscript though?A prop like a knife? Some blood?
Closer! I'll spare you the little adjustments, but remember the fingerprints earlier? We recruited them in this new context, left in the blood, as if by the reader him/herself.
Introducing our upcoming paperback cover for The Last Dickens!
Top hat free!