Cover Design Discussions Begin

+John Ward is designing the cover for my book Perishables as part of The Perishables Project, linked below. We’re going to be working through the process from initial conversations to finished project in public, on Google+, as an experiment for both of us. If you’d like to follow along, search for #jlwardcovers or ask to be added to my Book Followers circle and to John’s circles.

All John knows at the moment is that this is a novel that involves zombies and is about 50,000 words long. He’s asked a few questions to get started. My response to his questions was:

+John Ward, here are the answers to your questions:

1. What is the title of your book?

It’s called Perishables.

2. What is the genre for your book? I believe it’s horror, but I want to make sure that it’s not something unexpected like comedy.

It’s a mix of horror, action and comedy. (Nothing’s ever easy, is it?) I feel like zombies have been done to death and back again and there’s not a lot of shock value there anymore. I try to treat them as essentially a weather effect and focus on the relationships between the living, their personal motivations and the existing social fractures that are highlighted by the stresses of an extreme event. That leaves me plenty of room for humor and commentary and tongue-in-cheek in addition to the personal horrors of loneliness and ostracism that affect so many people already. It’s mostly a book about how everyone thinks they’re what’s normal and everyone else is Other. It isn’t nearly so relentlessly melancholy as that sounds, though it has its moments. Each section concludes with a more-or-less functional recipe for producing a specific dessert in the event of an apocalypse.

To give you a bit of a feel, it’s divided into three sections:

Part I is about a vampire who’s at a meeting of his suburban neighborhood association when the dead begin to walk. He’s grumpy, touchy, morbidly obese and perfectly capable of demolishing any number of zombies but he’d rather his neighborhood association not find out why. He’s the ultimate lovably irascible neighbor, a 350 lb Sophia from The Golden Girls with fangs. Part I can be read in its entirety as a PDF at the site linked below.

Part II takes place the same night in another location. It’s about a young woman who’s a systems administrator at a tiny college in a remote area and the reactions people start to have when they hear the zombie apocalypse is on its way. She’s never quite felt welcome in her role or in that place but finds herself trying to defend it.

Part III is set several years later when the viewpoint characters of Parts I & II bump into one another at the midnight opening of a Black Friday/After-Thanksgiving sale at a big box store and some small amount of chaos occurs. It’s about how people handle the aftermath of stressful events.

3. What was the name of the award? Would you like to reference the award on the cover?

It’s the 2012 Laine Cunningham Novel Award.

I definitely want to emphasize the award, as I am immensely flattered to have won and without the award I wouldn’t have bothered trying to do anything with this beyond the entertainment I derived from having written it in the first place.

4. Do you currently have an idea or concept in mind for your cover?

I’m looking for something simple, probably a portrait of Withrow (the vampire character) and/or Jennifer (the sysadmin). Some random thoughts that amuse me are:

— Withrow with one elbow resting atop the head of a zombie
— Jennifer with her trusty baseball bat at the ready
— Withrow and Jennifer back to back
— Withrow and his oversized Doberman
— a shopping bag full of “parts” a la your excellent “Bag Lunch” piece.
— Withrow or Jennifer looking askance at an approaching zombie.

I realize those aren’t “simple,” I’m just thinking aloud. Please feel free to tell me if I’m babbling or if I’m asking too much! This is all new to me.

The works in your gallery I most like are the banner image of the shifty-looking character you use in your post on the importance of highlights and contrasts, the portrait of what looks like a warlock and his imp minion and the piece I mentioned above, “Bag Lunch.” I tend to prefer works that look more penciled than painted in general.

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