Thursday, March 10, 2016

Book cover: Stranger in the Looking Glass

This is a cover for the "Antique Shop Mysteries" series from Annie's Publishing. If you haven't seen my previous cozy mystery blog posts, cozy mystery covers tend to have a quaint, small-town setting, a hobby theme, and a "sinister element" that suggests danger.

The art order for "Stranger in the Looking Glass" was a daunting multiple-page document that included a lot of photos for me to reference. I'll just sum it up here:
  • A Colonial Revival mansion with adjacent carriage house located on a wooded, seaside estate in New England.
  • The carriage house has been turned into a busy antique store filled with rare finds. The shop or a partial view of it near the rear side of the mansion. Include a small sign on it that says "Antiques."
  • An old fashioned gas lamp in the foreground with a hanging sign that says "Carriage House Antiques."
  • A brownish/ black striped cat somewhere in the scene.
  • The "mystery element" will be a silhouette in a lit attic window.
This is the part where I tend to get a little panicky. How am I going to fit two buildings on a book cover? Two?? Surely such a thing cannot be done! "This is madness," I whisper as I scribble out thumbnails. "Madness."

Here are the roughs I sent to the client. Since a figure needed to be silhouetted in the window, that meant that the lights needed to be on in the house - so it couldn't be in the middle of the day. Since this client likes their covers to be bright and colorful, I chose to set it in the evening rather than at night - dark enough that the lights in the house would glow, but not too dark.

The client liked rough #2, with some revisions. They asked for a stone wall in the foreground, a sitting cat, and for the cat to be wearing a collar. They asked for more pine trees, more landscaped flowers, more space in the sky, and a grander entrance to the mansion.

The AD said there was too much brown going on in this color rough (looking back, she was totally right), so we tried out a few different colors for the cat, the sign and the roof.

 She liked the last one, the dark grey roof, the best. I was clear to go to final.

I put quite a lot of polish into this one!

I painted this cover over a year ago, and I haven't looked at it since then. Last month this book arrived in the mail, and I thought, "Dang, that's a pretty sweet cover." Annie's Publishing always does such a lovely job on the book design. I like how they picked a pink accent color from the sunset.

So yeah, I'm rather proud of this one, if I do say so myself.

If you would like to subscribe to any of Annie's fiction mysteries series, you can do so at their website.


  1. beautiful cover! I love reading other artist's process :)

  2. I love how the cat's tail is animated (Flicking) if you look at the roof color variants. Was that intentional?


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