Judging A Book By Its Cover
The new Bryant & May novel, ‘Hall Of Mirrors’, is getting ready to go to print, and almost has a cover. I say ‘almost’ because we’ve been through a lot of styles to find the right image, for two reasons; first, we have Max Schindler back on the art (he joined us at ‘Bryant & May: London’s Glory’), and he works from detailed sketches. He’s our fourth artist in the books. Second, this one is set in the swinging sixties, and therefore Bryant & May are younger and need a different look.
Now, those with long memories (or those who’ve just discovered Bryant & May and insisted on starting with the first book, ‘Full Dark House’, as many do) will know that our venerable, vulnerable detectives are ageing strangely. If they were in their twenties during the Blitz how can they still be in their twenties in the 1960s?
I’ve explained that by having their adventures based on Arthur Bryant’s memoirs, which bring a new meaning to the term ‘unreliable’. This allows me to stretch and flex the tales to suit the way Arthur would like them to be, and as he considers truth to have nothing to do with honesty, I have some room to manoeuvre.
The first attempt at a cover was rather fun; the idea was to freeze frame a moment from the book to give it more action. This would have meant repainting all the covers to match, and my publisher is far too stingy to do that. The other problem is that interiors on book covers can look a little claustrophobic.
The second attempt had the detectives at the gates of the country house, but looked overly symmetrical and a bit twee. The final version will take the same scene at an angle to include a couple of other key elements. The scene will be changed to night to allow for some explosions (obviously!)
The UK covers carry a complex semiotic signal; they echo old British railway poster layouts, even using the old railway company sans-serif typeface, but also have the styling of Golden Age thrillers and perhaps a touch of London Underground posters. The American covers will now keep the UK art but with their own typeface and the addition of a little signpost (below). The book after this will see our heroes back to their correct ageless ages in the 21st century.