What’s in a cover?

Cover Art: Assaf Shtilman

Based on feedback by one of my readers, I realized that the original cover (see down), which I absolutely love, does not shout “thriller” to the potential reader. Its impressionistic and mysterious tone (based on a Renoir) and the antiquated font I had chosen, were out-of-character and simply did not align themselves with the covers one tends to see on popular, mass-market thrillers published in the twenty-first century, such as those written by Jonathan Kellerman, his son Jesse Kellerman, or Robin Cook, to name but a few. Thus, the above cover for The Rosebush Murders was born out of a need to match the narrative and the way the story was told (in other words, its genre) to the actual cover.

Over a period of a few weeks or months, I hunted for images that might lend themselves to a new cover, and a seasoned and patient graphic artist showed me what I might achieve with these photos/pictures. Although I did not always know how to formulate what it was I wanted, I trusted I would know when the fit was good-enough. This resulted in our going back to the drawing board time and again, although overall, there were some good mock covers. I also plied my friends and family with different versions of the new cover, and elicited their feedback, to varying degrees.

Finally, I decided to consult with Assaf Shtilman, a friend with a prolific, constantly growing collection of photos of roses and other flowers, many of which I had seen on Facebook, and absolutely loved. He showed me his online collection of paintings as well and told me he had once done a cover for a friend. I was delighted when he agreed to do one for my book, The Rosebush Murders, and most likely the other books in the Helen Mirkin series, time permitting. A software engineer, he has many hobbies, and a vibrant life.

With his keen eye for detail and ability to conceptualize the information conveyed by the visual images used in book covers, my talented friend and colleague, Assaf Shtilman, walked me through several types of covers, including those depicting specific scenes, and the more “symbolic” ones. Together we perused novels I had collected over the years and Googled various authors, to get a sense of what was out there and what might work for me. I suggested various elements that we might use. This led to Assaf’s out-of-the-box offer to paint an original cover, as it was too complicated to either construct it out of existing photographs, or create a scene that could then be photographed.

The result: the idea of a painting of a macabre mobile, one that incorporated some of the elements I wanted to use (e.g., a rose, DNA, a gun, a gloved hand), as well as Assaf’s image of the firing gun, which was based on cartoon-like images of guns and toy guns such as might hang from a mobile.

We hope you like the new cover as much as the old.

Cover Art: Patty Henderson