Cover Designer: Emma Calin
Comments about cover design
I wanted the cover to give a feel of the cross-genre nature of the story. It had to appeal to readers of thrillers and mysteries as well as being attractive to romance readers as the story blends all three elements. The book cover aims to blend the idea of ‘cops and slobbers’ as my partner would have it!
Much of the action in the book is centered on Bloxington Manor – the home of Spencer, the current earl. The inspiration for this house is Avington Park which is near to where I live in England. It is a gorgeous venue. In the book the story develops the between the earl, his wayward son and the new local police officer, Shannon, who is a sassy mixed-race London street cop, moved out to the countryside after one too many maverick missions.
The artwork is made up of 3 separate photos that have been processed and blended to to give (hopefully!) the desired effect. The starting shot was of the house itself – taken at dusk with all lights blazing it looked great but the scenery around it did not work, so I completely cut out the house from the trees and sky. I created a darker background of a sunset effect on Photoshop – to which I added the moon and some more stars and some grass in the foreground, fading into black.
The next element was the ‘romantic’ signature image of a hunky male torso. I’m afraid at the end of the day, romance readers are attracted to a story by the visual promise of a fantasy lover…. I spent ages looking on the internet for an image of a welder in action – Shannon first meets Spencer when he is in a garage out the back of the mansion fixing up a classic car. My friends were always popping round asking to see the latest specimen. I found one shot that was perfect – a really lovely guy with a spanner and sat on the edge of a car, right build, right age and also yummy to boot. Unfortunately the shot was not for sale. It was proving hard to find stock photo shots like this – not many welders want to wield their tool with a bare top! So, instead I settled for a photo from Masterfile – a nicely muscled torso, with a hand clasping at the guy’s chest – conveying a sense of jealousy maybe – appropriate for the story indeed. I did not want the female behind him to show, as it was all getting a bit busy, luckily a few stokes on Photoshop and she was gone. The guy was a little pale and so I beefed up his tan on Photoshop to make him look more healthy. I also added some nice red nail varnish to the clasping digits. The other problem was this chap’s underpants – they were visible above his slightly opened fly and to be honest, they were a bit worn – you know, greying and the the elastic was fraying. YUK. So I created a pair of black pants and faded them into the sky of the manor house below. He was also on a rather brown background – so I found a swirly baroque wallpaper pattern which I thought conveyed a sense of wealth and opulence once I had coloured it in black and white.
Although I liked the cover at this stage, it said “romance” to me but gave no hint of the police mystery aspect to the story. I toyed with police “do not cross this line” tape but this did not work. I tried to find some stock photos of a woman police officer – but these are rare and those available were just not looking in the right direction. Then my partner’s daughter was showing some photos of her with her mates on holiday – and there was Shannon. A lovely lady called Jade who is a social worker on the tough streets of Southampton. She is part Jamaican and part Caucasian Brit and is a beautiful person inside and out. She is also game for a laugh and spent an afternoon at my house dressed up in a genuine WPC hat (bought from eBay!) with a ‘strippogram’ police kit scarf and epaulettes on an old white shirt I had had from days gone by. We got her to pose against a green-screen that we keep in our shed – moved into our conservatory to get better lighting. She was the perfect model. We took a load of shots at different angles but chose the one you see on the cover as she looks a bit cheeky – exactly how Shannon comes across in the story! I then cut her out of her background – only to notice that the badge on the police hat was for Yorkshire Police and not the London Met Police. Luckily I found a free image of the Met police badge and cut it out, positioned it and blended it on to the photo we had taken.
The author name on the book is in a font style and position that matches all my other published books. No choices on that one. The choice of font for the title is a stencil-style that I felt conveyed a sense of a stamp of authority. I was messing around with the position of the apostrophe and decided it would be cool to add some more red to the cover and had the idea to create a warped red heart to make this punctuation mark.
Finally, the black swirly wallpaper all seemed a bit stark, and so I added a navy blue vignette overlay to make it blend better with the sky and the house and also helped make the police hat stand out from the background.
The book was launched in late February 2014 and has already got 58 reviews in the USA with an average of 4.5 stars.
Amy Dingmann says
Love that the apostrophe is a heart! But the author name needs to be moved down a bit so it doesn’t look like the dot from the “i” is right on the woman’s chin! 🙂