DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Monday, January 3, 2011

An Interview with Author and Artist Fiona Jayde

While Fiona Jayde’s romantic thriller novels such as "Night Haven" and "Pas de Deux" may, unexplainably, not have found their way to your library yet, it is likely you possess a sample of her artistry. For Fiona’s artwork has graced the cover of numerous novels, and the popularity of her work, and the demand for it, only seems to be increasing.

Admittedly, I rarely look to see who created the cover that plays such an important role in drawing my attention to a book. But, the cover is the initial impression that separates one novel from all the others on the bookstore shelf. It commands our attention, encourages and seduces us to place the book in our hands and read the tagline, then, hopefully, the blurb, and ultimately the first few paragraphs, maybe the full first chapter.
The cover whispers, “Read this book… buy this book.”

While the cover plays such an important, almost critical role in a potential reader’s first impression, the cover is also the one thing the average author has the least amount of input into. The publisher has the final say, not the writer.

Ironically, as a consumer, you and I care little about who created the cover and don’t buy the book because Fiona Jayde developed the jacket. But if the artwork is cheap or tacky in appearance, many pass by the book, assuming the story will reflect the same lack of professionalism. We subconsciously conclude that if the cover doesn’t draw our interest, how could the story?

And therein lies Fiona Jayde’s popularity. Her artwork stops our eyes and hypnotically commands us to pick up the book. We may not buy the book in the end, but we walk away mentally mumbling how ‘neat,’ ‘cool,’ ‘awesome,’ or ‘intriguing’ the cover was.

Yes, dear reader. Every time we buy a book, we help put food on an artist’s table. http://fionajayde.com/

Q) You are an outstanding writer, yet, had a desire to let your artistry flow to design. How did you convince that first publisher to give you the freedom to design a cover?

A) Thank you! I'm fairly "scattered" in my personal hobbies and interests - in addition to writing and designing, I also play a bit of piano, take martial arts classes, and do some web developing on the side. Its all "artistic" in its own way, even the coding.

As far as convincing that first publisher to let me design cover... well, honestly? A hint of blackmail. I had a series my publisher wanted to condense into a collection and re-release as a bundle. I agreed, with the caveat the publisher would consider my own design for the cover. They had the right to tell me I was full of it, but at least they would look at it. Luckily for me, they liked it enough to publish the collection with that cover. This particular book is no longer in print, but it gave me the start of my "official" cover art career.

Q) What does the process entail for creating a cover? How are you inspired, and just how much do you actually work one-on-one with an author?

A) I usually base covers on what the author envisions - and really, what the author wants to "feel" about the book. I'm known to sometimes ignore an aspect or two in favor of the cover "feeling" right. As such, the most important thing for the author to do is give me examples of what the book visually feels like - dark and moody, magic, a fun romantic comedy, etc.

I'm more of a designer than actual artist - I can't really "make" anything visually (I have a degree in Studio Arts and barely can draw a stick figure), but I have knack of fitting things together into one cohesive image. Usually I'll troll through various image sites and get ideas from other people's art (as well as author provided samples) for inspiration. Much like writing, sometimes the design takes over half way into the process - and that's the most fun (and the most frustration).

I can't say I work one on one with the authors too much, although there have been occasions. My job is not to represent characters or settings exactly how they are in the book - my job is to make the cover as intriguing and attention getting as possible.

Q) I have to ask this. Has there been a time where the publisher rejected your artwork for one of your own books?

A) Oh yes, absolutely. It was one of the first cover mockups I've made and I was convinced it was the best thing since sliced bread. The art director of the publishing house I was with didn't quite agree with me, and for the life of me I couldn't understand why he didn't see things my way.

These days I don't usually do my own cover art. Why? Because I'm my own worst client. It takes me days and weeks to agonize over a design. (Take a look at the graphic at my website for example - days and days of minor OCD). I drive myself crazy. As such, both covers for "Pas De Deux" and "Night Haven" were done by very talented cover artists at Samhain Publishing (Amanda Kelsey and Kanaxa respectively). I love giving my written works to cover artists I admire and seeing what they'll do with it.

Q) Do you ever use live models for your designs? Why or why not?

A) Live models as in take pictures of someone and then use them in a cover? I haven't really, as this is usually a cost issue for the publisher. (Plus I know nothing about photography or lighting or any other intricate details!)

However I'm involved in a mystery book series where the covers will be based on an actual live photo shoot. I'm really looking forward to it!

Q) Normally in the final question I ask the author to offer some advice to prospective writers, and feel free to do so. But, I’d really like to hear any advice or encouragement you can provide to young artists interested in designing covers for novels.

A) I think the advice would be the same for both - writing and cover art design - keep practicing your craft. The best way to break into the cover art business is to have a cover art portfolio readily available so that prospective clients can see your work very easily. (It can be for fake books if you have nothing else - which is how I got started!) Develop a portfolio of your best work and have it ready to go. Then simply talk to people, offer to do mockups, and always look for things that inspire you.

9 comments:

  1. Fiona, I love the three covers you designed for me. When I created a poster for WET and gave it away, autographed, people really took notice of the book. Thanks for making me look good.

    Margie
    www.romancewithsass.com

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  2. Hello, Margie!
    So many thanks for taking the time to drop by and comment.
    Fiona did the covers for my books "Out of the Closet" and "Sunday Awakening" as well.
    The lady has a gift.

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  3. What a fascinating read! I happen to LOVE Fiona because she designed two absolutely stunning covers for my Noble books "Down in Flames" and "Run to You." It's safe to say, Fiona, I owe at least a few sales to your talented eye! I get compliments on them all the time. I don't know how you have the time or energy to write as well, but you kick it, girl. You are AWESOME!

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  4. Thank you for commenting, Sarah.
    Obviously, Fiona's a favorite of mine, too.

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  5. What a great interview and perfectly timed. Cover design has interested me for a while and I had wondered how people get started doing it. I'm self teaching myself Photoshop in my spare time and I have to say its so much fun. Thanks for the tips!

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  6. Hi, Heather.
    Welcome!
    Thank you for stopping by. It's really nice of you.
    I toy with Photoscape (a free download), but compared to true artists like Fiona, I pretty much create stick figures.

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  7. Hello, DA and Fiona!

    I love your work Fiona and I enjoyed learning more about your creative process! Pas de Duex is on my Nook to be read very soon! Best wishes to you in all your creative and writing endeavors!

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  8. Hi there, Nichelle!
    Fiona and I do so appreciate the kind words.

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  9. Hi guys- thanks for the terrific comments! Its truly an honor to be part of an author's visions and help them make their books as marketable as possible.

    Margie - my pleasure! The WET poster photo I saw looked terrific! (As did your beaming smile)

    DA - your two covers are so completely different from each other - and both are incredibly fun in terms of creativity:) The Kitty in the cup is still one of my fave pics:)

    I'm thrilled you love your covers Sarah! As for writing and doing covers, they are the same creativity expressed in different brain lengths:) You guys do the hard work in telling me your visions!

    Hi Heather - glad you enjoyed the interview! Photoshop is an awesome tool:) And LOL DA - same here, I can't draw to save my life.

    Hi Nichelle - thank you! I hope you enjoy PdD!
    -Fi

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