A Gift to the Reader: Illustrations and The Undressed
January 6, 2011
Illustrations are a gift from the author to the reader. As a boy, I loved my Narnia books. They were rife with little illustrations that drew me into the story and made me want to turn the page and get to the next one. As an author, I want to give that same gift to the reader.I always have several ready-made illustrations for each book. I never dictate to my cover artist, Carol Phillips, what the cover for each book is going to be. It’s a collaborative effort and I try to include Carol as much as possible. I usually give her four or five ideas, detailing them out to her as necessary. She then draws up a little thumbnail of each one and we toss them around and pick. “I really like this one,” Carol will usually say and I go with her judgment. Like I said–it’s my book, but it’s not my book; it’s a collaboration.
The above illustration was one of those cover ideas that didn’t make it to the cover. It was #2 of 4–with #4 eventually being selected for the cover. So, once it’s all said and done, I have these wonderful sketch concepts with no place to go. The next logical place to put them is in the interior, where they can light up the pages. Everything Carol draws is a masterpiece, and it’s a shame to see any of it go to waste.
Another consideration for picking the cover-interior illustrations is content. As with many of my ideas, they often skirt the boundaries of good taste, where the difference between being dressed and undressed is a whole lot of clothes, and, you can get away with a bit more nudity in the interior of the book then you can on the cover. My big guiding influence has always been Michael Moorcock, who, unlike C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien, was always rather unabashed with the dress (or undress) of his characters, and I happily follow that model. I recall being astonished reading Moorcock’s work, where you could have long conversations or fight scenes between completely undressed people. Quite an eye-opener and Carol, being a fairy artist, is always up for drawing “The Undressed”. Take a good hard look at the illustration–what do you see?? A couple of naked people here and there, a little S&M going on–yep. One variation from the book is Kay being fully dressed, as, in the book, he’s not dressed at all–everybody’s naked.
This illustration, along with twenty more shall be featured in TOTEH, The Dead Held Hands.
Copyright 2011, Carol Phillips