Hello everyone, it's Mary Anne's husband, Angry Old Fat Man (AOFM for short).
If you're a regular reader of this site, you probably know that I, AOFM, create all of Mary Anne's book covers for her. She expressed her desire to let you, the reader, have a peek behind the scenes of the creative process I go through to make nebulous clouds of thought into solid color images on thick cover stock paper.
So come along with me while I indulge her.
The first things I need to know before creating the cover are what the plot, characters, and setting of Mary Anne's book will be. So I ask my wife what her book is about. She proceeds to e-mail me the entire book in whatever stage of completion it may be in.
I look at the 100,000+ words, have a petit mal seizure, and once I become fully conscious again, promptly ignore them.
I then go back to my wife and politely ask her what the setting of her book is, what the characters look like, and what the general plot of the book is. She asks me not so politely why didn't I read the book.
My reply? "Words words lots of words holy mother of Allah at the words many many words..." and then I devolve into grunting, hooting, and hopping around like the apemen around the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Except the monolith is Mr. Brick.
Then Mary Anne throws me a banana (potassium is important!) to calm me down and starts the most crucial part of the process - she states her own ideas about what should be on the cover.
Of course her ideas are not so much creative graphic ideas as they are attempts at telling the whole plot of the book on a 5.25" x 8" blank space. I imagine she looks at an empty cover the same way the Pharoahs looked at an undecorated stone wall - as an opportunity to tell everyone through a series of tiny, mysteriously unrelated pictures about how a man shtupped boatloads of women while pursuing marriage with his own sister.
I listen attentively to her ideas for the cover, nodding and affirming each and every single statement. I then have another petit mal seizure and drool for 2 hours while she continues talking.
When she leaves for coffee (I think writers and caffeine addiction must go together like chicken and rice), I regain consciousness, forget everything she told me, and flee to the refuge of my computer and its comforting hearthlike glow. Ahhhh, relief.
My mind is finally blank enough to start work on the cover. I begin gathering source images from various places. While looking for pictures pertaining to the setting (old West, Regency England - whatever/whenever the hell that was, Fairyland, etc.) I catch a glimpse of female flesh. This leads me to searches for "nubile teen contortionists in animal print lingerie" and more drooling.
After downloading several gigs worth of backward-curled zebra-patterned goodness, I hunker down and put together two or three strong elements relating to the plot and characters of Mary Anne's book.
If it's a Western setting, I put a guy and a chick humping in a horse pasture.
If it's Regency England, I put a guy and a chick humping in a castle.
If it's Fairyland, I put a guy and a chick humping in the woods with Day-Glo butterflies flitting around their naughty bits.
If it's a sequel to the last Fairyland book, I put a guy and a chick humping next to a stream with Day-Glo butterflies flitting around their naughty bits.
And that's how I, AOFM, create a romance novel book cover.