But how does that issue affect you when you’re actually the person who wrote the characters? I’ve been spending a lot of time promoting my book Dark Dates, lately, while also starting to work on the sequel. One of the questions that regularly comes up in interviews is ‘who would you want to play the main characters on TV/in a movie?’ – and I admit it’s one which has me stumped. I can think of a few ideas to play the central male figures, Cain and Laclos (and the secondary male characters, like the Counsel) – Charlie Hunnan, Tom Hiddleston, Ben Browder, Timothy Olyphant , Jason Isaacs – but if I’m honest, this is just me drawing up a list of men I fancy and would like to be in the same room as (I’d get to do that as a writer, yes? Yes?) When it comes to the central female character Cassandra, I’m utterly clueless: and in part, that’s because I was deliberately vague in describing her. There’s hardly any clues to her physical appearance in the book, because I wanted her to be an ‘everywoman’ of sorts: someone we can all imagine being. Tying that down with lots of concrete details would have spoiled it for me.
One area where this has practical implications, though, is when you start thinking about the book cover, and promoting the book. Often, particularly in the urban fantasy genre, covers have figures on them: in much the same tradition as romance books, they like to draw you in with gorgeous people. Of course, if you’re going down the self-publishing path, as I am with this book, that gives you the issue of paying for models (or roping in your most photogenic friends and using very good lighting) – but I think even if I had the money to do that, I think I’d be against it. It’s far too easy to slip into cheesy; to make your heroines look like glamour models and your heroes look like Fabio, or to make your monsters silly rather than scary - and then you've scuppered your book before anyone has read the first page.
When I was working with my cover designer, Caroline Goldsmith, we deliberately chose to use things that were significant to the story, but steer away from actual people. In working on the promotional material for the new book – you can see the teaser below, and a trailer for it here – we worked with images of London, as the city is such an integral part of the action. If you’re going to use one of the world’s most striking cities as a backdrop for your book, surely it makes sense to utilise that – and leave the rest up to the readers’ imagination?
|Using the London skyline - based on a photo by Caroline Goldmsith|
As a closing note – if you’ll excuse the geek out – I’ll include this warning about book covers from one of my favourite TV shows, Supernatural: which has the wonderfully meta storyline of the main characters, Sam and Dean, having their lives turned into a series of novels within the show. Which turns this…
See what I mean about putting people on the cover?
What do you think? Do you have favourite covers which feature characters from the book? Let me know!