I have just come back from a three-day mini-break in Berlin and brought home with me: (a) four chocolate-covered marzipan sticks (like fingers of Fudge for the serious chocoholic); (b) some pasta shaped like the Brandenburg Gate; (c) an increased fear of the Stasi; and (d) a filthy cold. Thanks to the last of these, my 2,000 Sam words are just not going to happen today – my brain feels like it’s sharing my skull with a large sneeze-generating cloud. But rather than waste the time, I have rugged myself up on the sofa with a large glass of Ribena to hand (for non-UK readers, that’s a blackcurrant cordial much beloved of my generation, apparently full of vitamin C) and my laptop on a cushion, and I am starting the research for the cover of “Plank 3”.
The cover of “Fatal Forgery” (aka “Plank 1”) was entirely the brainchild of my marvellous cover designer at Design for Writers. I gave him the outline of the story and – this was great fun – examples of book covers I liked and disliked, and he came up with that (well, almost that – in the first version Sam had a moustache, but we changed it to side-whiskers). I loved it the instant I saw it. When I wrote “FF” I didn’t know I was going to do a series, but then I fell in love with my characters and couldn’t let them go. So along came “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat”, and by the greatest stroke of luck we found that the original “FF” cover could be adapted to give a series feel. Each book needs an outline figure and a background document relevant to the story – two elements for me to research – and then the title. And to foster the series identity, on the cover of “Canary” we have the strapline “A Sam Plank Mystery”.
My plan for today, therefore, is to look for appropriate images. Given that prostitution will be figuring significantly in “Plank 3”, I shall have to be careful with my search terms… I shall then send them to the cover man, and he can look into copyright, licensing, etc. and let me know what we can actually use. He will also suggest a colour in an appropriate “antique-y” shade – I’ve had great compliments on the “FF” teal and the “Canary” old gold, so there’s plenty to live up to. Perhaps I should take inspiration from my red nose and the purple Ribena and go for a pleasant shade of Regency puce.