If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Evoloution of a Book Cover

In today's Salad Bowl Saturday post, author J. L. Abramo takes us on a fascinating behind the scenes exploration of how he and the graphic artist, Jason Smith, developed the cover to his novel, Chasing Charlie Chan was created. ~ Jim

When creating a book cover, the title of a novel is a major consideration. It is the author’s first opportunity to create some interest. For the new book, I was somewhat limited by wishing the title to start with a gerund beginning with the letter C—as with the three Jake Diamond novels—Catching Water in a Net, Clutching at Straws and Counting to Infinity. On top of that—it’s a good idea to have the title say something about the book. Chasing Charlie Chan worked both ways.

Given the title is critical, so is the manner in which it is presented on the book jacket—the cover being an equally essential piece of the presentation—the invitation to look inside. Jason Smith—who created the title artwork and hand painted the front and back cover images—allowed me into his world—staying open to my thoughts and ideas—working closely with me to come up with a design that would truly represent what lay in wait within.

There were two considerations when approaching the front cover. Down & Out Books, the artist and the author all agreed to work on a concept that brought to mind the noir private eye novels of the forties and fifties—Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and Spillane’s Mike Hammer—albeit without the damsel in distress. (Sorry, no scantily clad babes aboard.) I believe if you don’t grab the reader in Chapter One you have lost half the battle—therefore Jason and I decided on using an image which captured a moment in those first pages. Here is an early rendition.

It was Jason Smith’s idea to use a badge—a small representation of the main protagonist that could be used in subsequent books and add to the dime store novel feel. Here is an early version of the Jimmy Pigeon badge.

The book is a work of fiction. Any resemblances to people alive or dead are coincidental and not intended by the author. That being said, we came to thinking out the back cover and the images that would best represent the story within the story. Here is Jason’s early work—original paintings of characters coincidentally called ‘Bugsy’ Siegel and Virginia Hill (alright, there is a dame) from forties photographs—and a 1947 newspaper article.

Putting the front and back covers together was the next step—here is an early version of both with spine—including the Jimmy Pigeon badge. The author name font was also changed and finalized at this point.

The back cover needed more pop—and the Las Vegas strip in the late forties was just the ticket. Jason beautifully incorporated the image—pushing the lady to the top left—and changing the book description to a more classic style font.

The next installment was very cool—particularly in the form Jason sent it—giving me a glimpse into the way he worked—the shape of his palette. And we were so close. 

So close. How about repeating the Jimmy Pigeon cameo on the spine? Let’s make the D&O logo more prominent. The result represents a long, rewarding collaboration of two artists from different mediums. A writer striving to create a work of fiction worth reading—and a painter who got it and beautifully gift-wrapped it. The complete package. Done. Now we can only hope the fine art will inspire curiosity—and the reader will not be disappointed with the pages between the covers.

J. L. Abramo was born in the seaside paradise of Brooklyn, New York on Raymond Chandler’s fifty-ninth birthday. A long-time educator, arts journalist and theatre artist, Abramo received a BA in Sociology and Education at the City College of New York and a Masters in Social Psychology at the University of Cincinnati.

Abramo is the author of the Jake Diamond mystery series including Catching Water in a Net (Winner of the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America Award for Best First Private Eye Novel), Clutching at Straws and Counting to Infinity. The series was published by St. Martin’s Press in hardback and re-released in eBook format and trade paperback by Down & Out Books.

Gravesend, a crime thriller set entirely in Brooklyn, predominantly in the neighborhood of that name where the author grew up, was published as an original trade paperback. Gravesend was described as ‘a truly exceptional novel’ and listed among ‘the top five of 2012’ by Crimespree Magazine.

Down and Out Books is set to release Chasing Charlie Chan: Special Edition featuring collected crime fiction by J. L. Abramo.  The eBook volume will include two complete mystery novels (Chasing Charlie Chan and Catching Water in a Net), a Jake Diamond short story ("One Hit Wonder"), sample chapters from three additional Abramo titles (Clutching at Straws, Counting to Infinity and Gravesend), and a sneak preview of the soon to be published fourth Jake Diamond mystery Circling the Runway.

Chasing Charlie Chan: Special Edition will be featured in Amazon’s Kindle Countdown beginning on March 4, 2014; starting at 99 cents and increasing in increments of $1 until reaching the regular $4.99 retail price on March 11.

Abramo is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the International Thriller Writers, Private Eye Writers of America and the Screen Actors Guild. Find more information from his website and like his author Facebook page.


James Montgomery Jackson said...

What a fun romp through a creative process. Thanks for joining us today and for all the insight.

~ Jim

Warren Bull said...

Thanks for giving us the rundown of for your cover art came to be. It definitely has the "feel" of a pulp fiction era book.

KM Rockwood said...

Interesting! And I love the results.

Not long ago, I read the results of some research that said there are five cover images that seem to elevate a books sales:
1. Holiday images, esp. Christmas
2. The beach (but not other vacation images)
3. A friendly-looking animal
4. A group of women who look like friends
5. A sexy, bare-chested man

Given the list, I have to wonder if the books studied were mostly those that appealed to women, but then, women do buy more books than men.

J. L. Abramo said...

What made CHASING CHARLIE CHAN an enlightening and enjoyable project was the resurrection of Jimmy Pigeon, a character who is already deceased when the first Jake Diamond book begins and who is talked of often throughout the series. I wanted to learn more about Pigeon, so I brought him to life by turning the clock back to 1994 and writing a prequel to CATCHING WATER IN A NET which can be read before or after the three Diamond novels or stand alone.

Gloria Alden said...

Welcome to WWK, J.L

This is an interesting story of your cover and how it evolved. It immediately lets a reader know the kind of mystery you write. It turned out perfectly.