Eric Luper's Bug Boy is about a young athlete who races thoroughbreds during the Great Depression. I've been into historical fiction ever since I read teen novels set during the Salem witch trials (drama! intrigue! burning at stakes!) and I'm psyched to read some more. (Like our pick this month... Copper Sun!)
Here's Eric's Cover Story:
"When I was writing BUG BOY, I was still in denial that I was writing historical fiction. So, the concept of a cover felt very distant, as did actually completing the manuscript. As I got closer to finishing my first draft, I started thinking about cover design. I knew it had to have horses and convey action or movement, but my specific opinion on the matter ended there.
"My publisher was stymied. They had no idea where to get either a) a horse racing photo from the 1930s that didn't look static and boring or b) a contemporary photo with no anachronisms in it. Eric Luper to the rescue! I spent several days pawing through the photo archives at the National Museum of Racing and the Saratoga Historical Society. No luck. I didn't want a black and white cover and colorized covers always look sort of creepy.
"So, I called a few amateur photographers I know who lurk around the track. As soon as I described what I needed, my friend Seth Holbrook's face lit up. 'I know exactly what you need!' he said. He forwarded an image to me and as soon as I saw it, I knew he was right. I pitched the image to my editor and we decided on a wraparound cover with very little text.
"The original photo has all the movement you see on the cover. It was taken by moving the camera at the speed of the horses and leaving the background and all other motion to blur. The original picture is quite striking. The art department then did their magic and antiqued it, while leaving all the vividness of the original image. It captures exactly what I was trying to capture in writing the book. It's a great pairing.
"I wished there was a way to get the whole image on the front of the book, but that would have required printing the book sideways, which would not go over well with anyone trying to shelve the sucker!
"There were some font changes and some subtle coloring and antiquing changes, but the cover did not evolve much throughout the process. As my editor would tell you, I like to offer my opinion on many things. I'm a visual person and I have a strong opinion about jacket design. I also think 'spine appeal' is extremely important. However, my expertise is in writing prose; I defer the final decisions on cover and whatnot to my editor and the art and marketing departments. It's their area of expertise.
"My litmus test for cover design is closing my eyes and envisioning myself at a book signing. I ask myself whether I'd be proud to be sitting next to a pile of the books or if I'd try to hide behind them. BUG BOY is a book I will be proud to sit next to."
I'm into the movement of the cover--Fast! Horses! Color! What do you guys think?