Well last week's cover post was so much fun, I decided to do another one today. =) Especially because this week I'm editing the truly-amazing book behind the cover.
Soul Painter is set in 1891 Chicago--a city of crime and excess, where the opium dens butt up against churches, where the opulence contrasts the squalor. The author of this book is Cara Luecht (pronounced "Licked"--I asked), and she has a skill the likes of which I haven't seen in years for painting a mood.
What mood, you ask? Gothic. A touch of film noire. The elements are every designer's dream. We have an eccentric hermit of a heroine--Miriam Beaumont hasn't, so far as Chicago knows, stepped foot out of her warehouse apartment since her father died some years ago. Maybe she's a witch. Maybe she was terribly burned in an industrial accident. Maybe...maybe...
Maybe she preferred to watch the world go by.
But she did go outside. Once in a while. Only at night. Only in the fog. Then she would pace the streets around her dormant warehouse, beside the cathedral. She would look up at the statue of the Virgin Mary outside it and identify with the cracked creation. But she would always return before dawn could pierce the fog.
And she would paint. She would watch the faces that went by, and she would paint. First what her eyes saw.
And then what her soul did. Over the layers of reality she would paint...the future. For years, she had done this, and then watched the children grow up into the image she had seen.
Until Ione. Ione was supposed to be strong. Ione was supposed to be successful. So why is the young woman now haunting the alleyway between the warehouse and cathedral as a prostitute? It puts her in the path of an attacker who preys on such women, who nearly kills her. Until the fog rolls in.
So begins an unlikely team of crime fighters. A hermit. A priest. A lawyer. Two prostitutes. Can they bring light to the seedy underbelly of Chicago? And maybe discover something about themselves--and of course, find some romance--along the way?
Curious yet? ;-)
This is a truly fabulous book, and the moment I read the proposal, I knew we wanted it. And I was already envisioning the cover. I wanted to capture Miriam on one of her foggy night walks. Gray cloak obscuring her features, apprehension on her face. Perhaps when she first heard that moan coming from Ione. Perhaps when she sees dawn sneaking in.
As usual, I started with the stock photo sites, searching for images of women in cloaks. This was the best image I found for Miriam.
So I started by erasing the background and that braid. (Oh, how I love the clone and heal tools in Photoshop!)
So my next task was the background. I actually did a lot of searching for this one, trying to find that perfect image that would capture Chicago at the time. I searched, and I searched. I tried some arches. I tried some doorways. And then I growled and tried "cathedral." Bingo!
This is actually from New Orleans, LOL, but it's the right style and age, and I loved the picture itself. Foggy, which blurs the street lights enough that you can't really tell if they're gas or electric.
I deemed this a learning experience and hit Google. =) You know what I love about the internet these days? There are tutorials for everything online. I'd never tried to create fog in Photoshop before, but I knew it could be done. So I typed "how to make fog in Photoshop" into my handy-dandy search engine, and voila! A tutorial! Better yet, it's easy. A pretty simple matter of creating a new layer, adding the cloud filter, and then fooling with the fade gradient.
So I added a layer of fog to Miriam by the cathedral.
Now, the masterful Cara Luecht also has some background in design, and an eye that shows it. She knew exactly what she wanted for her cover in terms of style. She wanted a black block at the bottom, a flourish coming up behind it, and the tag line for the book on there.
I actually had some trouble finding a flourish that would work. There are tons of free flourishes out there online, but they're small. And I needed to make this one HUGE. So I actually ended up buying a vector pack, which I try to avoid for this sort of element, LOL. And selected this one.
Hence began the search for a font. I couldn't find one that I loved, so I ended up patching a couple together. The S in Soul is different than the rest.
And I'm thrilled to say that when I posted this one to Facebook, I got a bigger response than I ever had to a cover. My book club ladies even approached me at a Christmas event that week and said, "We're reading that, right? Tell me more about it!" That tag line and the cover hooked them. Which is, of course, our goal. =)
And it's a book that deserves to hook. It's got intrigue, spiritual truths, history, romance, and hope against a backdrop of darkness. Love it. Seriously. And you will too. So you know, if you wanna pre-order, feel free. ;-)