Monday, 21 April 2008
Death and the US cover
While I'm on the subject of Death and the Arrow covers - there is another one (in fact another two, but I don't have a copy of the Danish one to hand). In the US, the book was published by Knopf which is under the umbrella of Random House.
I was so excited to have a book published in the US but I was a little taken aback when my editor at Knopf - Nancy Hinkel - sent me a copy of the cover by email. I actually giggled when I saw it. It looked like someone had described the book to the illustrator over the phone - 'It's about Death, yeah. And he's got this arrow apparently. . .'
The story revolves around a series of mysterious deaths, the victims all being shot with arrows and found to have a Death card in their pocket. This card is a calling card, featuring the Death figure shown below and is described as such in the book. It is most definitely not a Tarot card.
Added to which, it had a Victorian look about it somehow, rather than early eighteenth. And it looked a little heavy metal. But, looking at it now, I wonder if the Americans did not get it right. Or at least better.
My attitude to covers has changed over the years. I think I would rather have an exciting cover than a pedantically accurate one. In fact I know I would. I think, for all it's faults, the US cover is arresting in a way that the two UK covers are not. They are both more tasteful - but what ten year old cares about that? And it picks up on the creepy aspect of the book, and that is a good thing. It isn't a great cover, but it works.
Incidentally, US publication of Death and the Arrow was momentarily threatened by the fact that in October 2002 a real-life sniper (rather than archer) called the Beltway Sniper was shooting people in and around Washington DC and - in a startling bit of coincidence - leaving a Death card on the bodies. Because of the timing of the publication, there was a danger that it would look like I had been inspired by this real-life event, but things moved on and the book came out as planned.