Google+ The Art that Inspires Writers and Readers: February 2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

From the Tate Gallery (for inspiration) to the Romance cover

I have been turning around the subject of the romance cover art for a few post already. First I had to remove them from my personal list of endangered  species and now I am going as far as considering their artistic value.

The question now is: What  makes a good cover illustration? and my answer is that it must meet the expectations, like all the other rules of romance that still have to be respected:

1. The Hero and Heroine meet 
2. Attraction develops
3. Suffering happens
4. Physical culmination at the almost exact middle of the book
5. More suffering
5. Happy ending
 AND A cover that helps you imagine the story. 

(And I think it still stands that the heroine must be sexually inexperienced or at least must not have found much satisfaction in previous relationship)

The covers are also evolving, as you can see in my previous post. There is a tendency to replace landscapes and fresh faces for the scantly clad couples in the throes of passion, so common in the past.

And then, here comes Eloisa James and a fairly recent series (2007-2009): desperate duchesses. These are books about married women who are unhappy in their "happily ever after" and maybe because of that the intended public are  women who are not so young themselves, fellow readers, like me, who are happy to force the boundaries of the genre, but who still expect a classic cover (and the happy ending!).

And Here enters James Griffin, a classically trained painter who has been illustrating romance covers for decades. As He himself describes in his webpage, his personal interest in realistic painting had no place in an art gallery in the seventies and even less now. 
About Jim Griffin

Nevertheless his covers are exactly what we expect, it is part of the "romance novel experience"  and the perfect match for these heart felt stories of love redeemed. Beautiful classic paintings circa 2010 for heroines that have the drive and sensibility of our time. 



Saturday, February 8, 2014

Romance novel cover: an endangered species. PART II

Dear Ladies,

Maybe not unexpectedly, considering the huge success of the books themselves,  my little video about the Cynster Novels by Stephanie Laurens is also a success (by my humble standards). See previous post: 
Romance novel cover:and endangered species

Well dear ladies, the romance cover as we know it is alive and kicking. Judging by the amount of viewers from all over the world (I can see a neat map highlighting the countries were my viewers are). Thus inspired to do more to please her followers, I continued digging into Stefanie's book covers. I decided to honour the "Bastion Club Novels". This books precede the Cynster Novels, and the Bastion Club members  have a tendency to mingle with the Cynsters. 

Here is the result of my work:

Surprisingly, I found a rapid cover evolution from the first edition of the first book in 1997 to the current editions from 2013. It seems that the publishers also thought the old covers were obsolete and went to the trouble to make new ones: Fresh faced girls, as innocent as they come, no hero in tow. 

Here is an example from the novel "Captain Jack's Women" Showing the heroine Katherine "Kit" Cranmer in the 1997 stepback cover.

and in the new edition that you can find in Amazon:


While only around 10 years ago, the sensual heroine was depicted in the middle of  the divine rapture caused by the hero's passionate embrace, now the girls show almost no emotion, let alone passion and ecstasy!. They are also so young...or am I showing my own age here? See for yourself in my video:

The change in the graphics of the covers must reflect the taste of the new readers and I wonder what it tells us about the change in our dreams and aspirations as women. The content is still the same though: Domineering male characters and headstrong females. 

Although Stepahie's heroines just get some botox and more studio light, the heroines have changed in content as-well, as you can so clearly witness in the book 
"Dangerous women" (see previous post)

Dangerous Women