09 August 2014

Does this cover make you itch?

Life is full of choices, some people say. One of them may be whether to read this forthcoming medical thriller/contemporary vampire tale. The tropes are the same, as required in the genre, but each volume, no matter the author, must play with them in different ways. 

In A DRY PATCH OF SKIN, the main character does not believe in vampires. Then he does not believe he will become one. Then he fights against becoming one. The conflict is generated by our hero's desperation to stay normal, both for his own comfort and to be able to stay with his new lover. It's a complicated process. Each of the usual characteristics (tropes) of a vampire, and becoming a vampire, are examined in various scenes and accepted as plausible or disproven as medically impossible by the characters in the scenes. And yet, there is always "magical realism" to fly in, rather like a bat out of hell, to save the day!

Today I reveal the latest cover for this so-called vampire novel. Because the title refers to a diagnostic situation, I thought to use some medical-related image. I received many suggestions for syringes dripping blood. Squeamish myself, I dismissed those ideas. I found several truly hideous faces, people with advanced disease disfigurement, but I did not want to scare away readers from even opening the cover. I also did not want something too obviously related to vampire tales. I was not rewriting Twilight or Dracula, after all.

The twists in the plot lent to the cover art design the idea of Gothic horror and the sub-culture Goth. I looked at a lot of Goth girls--I was doing research!--and searched for a duplicate of the character in the novel. No such luck--because my imagination is much more vivid than my mundane reality. I returned to the "love story" aspect and continued searching for something that would speak volumes about some major theme of the novel, until I found what you now see: a couple embracing, maybe for the last time, as their situation becomes dire.

So I went with a basic black and white design, adding a catch-phrase line in blood red just for the amusement of those vampiriacs who cannot drink the words. Yes, I'm sick that way.

And now...without further adieu...the cover!

The actual line from the novel which has been repeated on the cover goes a little like this:

It was easy to drive to the hotel where a room should still be waiting for me, although I had yet to spend a night in it. The hotel staff would be happy to keep charging my MasterCard for whatever days my name was associated with the room. At least I could get a cold shower and change into fresh clothes. Then I would decide what to do next. After all, life has choices, I often told myself. But so does death.

It comes late in the book, as our hero (or shall we dub him anti-hero at this point?) is reflecting on his life. Perhaps he had been thinking a similar thought earlier, in several instances, but it was not recorded in the first-person narrative because it did not mean so much until this later scene. I hope that is not any kind of a spoiler. It is, of course, not so much what happens as how it happens in these kind of stories. I trust the journey will be full of pathos, romance, horror, and gut-wrenching insight into the nature of humanity. 

Either way, I'll be starting on the next book soon enough. I think I'll try Epic Fantasy. Thanks for your support!


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  1. Stephen - I will definitely be reading this book!

    1. I thought you already read it. Or practically all of it. The 4th edition, anyone.

  2. In answer to your question, yes. It does make me itch.

    1. Sorry about that. There are some treatments mentioned in the book.