“You can’t judge a book by its cover”, it is said, and this is true in the ultimate sense that after one reads a book, one likes it more or less than one expected at first glance. But in practice, when one is browsing in a bookstore or on the Internet, one may think, “this looks interesting” (meaning: I like the feeling that I get about this book from the cover, and having read, on the back cover, what it’s about.)
I’ve agreed three cover illustrations for my novels. Two of the covers I’m quite pleased with, and one less so. Starting with my first novel, Fishing in Foreign Seas, I thought I wanted an illustration of a woman fishing in a rather strange place. I felt this would be appropriate, given that the Sicilian heroine is accused by her mother of “fishing in foreign seas” by falling in love with an American man, instead of an Italian. I didn’t like the first design the publisher proposed, and I commissioned a freelance illustrator to produce an illustration. That illustration was what I asked for in terms of subject matter, but it wasn’t appropriate for a book cover: it looked too much like a cartoon. The publisher produced a second design, which I liked a lot better. Here it is:
What I like about this cover is the drama and mystery implied by it. But the fisherlady seems rather lonely. Moreover, she doesn’t seem to be catching very much. But it’s a love story – not about loneliness – and Caterina catches a pretty good fish. Moral of the story, I didn’t think carefully enough about what I wanted to say with the illustration.
My second novel, Sin & Contrition, is, as the title suggests, about human frailty and regret. I suggested, vaguely, to the publisher that maybe the cover illustration should involve a stylised angel and a devil. They came back with the photograph of a statue of a fallen angel in shades of green:
I thought this was quite eye-catching, and it conveys in one image what the book is about.
Efraim’s Eye is a thriller about a lone terrorist’s attempt to destroy the London Eye, killing all 800 passengers. His financing for the special explosives he needs is supplied by his half-brother, who is the corrupt chief executive of a Moroccan charity. The charity is investigated by a British financial consultant and the operations director of the Moroccan charity’s British parent. The ops director, a young, multi-lingual, Israeli female and the consultant begin to untangle the web of deceit, and they discover the terrorist’s plan. But how can they stop the attack? Here is the cover of Efraim’s Eye:
This cover with the title, I think, conveys come of what the book is about. But there is still the mystery: who is Efraim and why is it his eye?
My fourth novel, The Iranian Scorpion, has now been published. It is a thriller about Robert Dawson of the Drug Enforcement Agency who is sent to Afghanistan to find ways of reducing the flow of heroin – produced from opium – to the US. With the help of Kate Conway, a freelance journalist and Vizier Ashraf , a shadowy Taliban leader, Rob is disguised as a field hand. He learns opium poppy cultivation and the conversion of opium to heroin. With his farmer ‘boss’, Azizullah, he enters Iran with 25 kg of heroin which is sold to The Scorpion, a drugs baron and governor of a remote Iranian province. Rob traces the heroin to New York City, where a bust is made. Furious, The Scorpion orders Rob to be captured and executed. Meanwhile Rob’s father, US general David Dawson is in Tehran with the UN agency investigating Iran’s use of nuclear energy. General Dawson learns of his son’s capture and threatened execution and decides to take action. (You’ll have to read the book to discover the conclusion.)