Lionheart’s rebirth in paperback
This is a brief holiday blog—to wish you all a Happy New Year. The new year is getting off to a good start for me with the publication today by Ballantine Books of the American paperback edition of Lionheart and with the publication on Thursday by Macmillan of the British edition of Lionheart. I will try to include the book covers, though lately my computer has been very uncooperative about agreeing to post photos on my blog, just another of the many ways my computers find to torment me. This is one of the rare times when I am very happy with all four book covers; that has not always been true in the past.
I think Here be Dragons was particularly unlucky in this regard. I was never a fan of the American hardback cover, which showed two figures supposed to be Llywelyn and Joanna in a landscape that looked like the far side of the moon to me, complete with a little flying dragon. It could have been worse, though. I was told that when it was first unveiled in the art department, there were murmurs of approval, until a junior editor said, “But in the book, didn’t Llywelyn and Joanna have black hair?” The artist had made them both flaming redheads. Since that mistake was caught before I ever saw it, my blood pressure was not affected. But an early Avon paperback edition of Dragons had Llywelyn looking like Tom Selleck in his Magnum, PI days and Joanna looking like…well, like a wench who had just tumbled out of her lover’s bed, and as the piece de resistance, in the top corner was a depiction of King John, who was a dead ringer for Peter O’Toole in Becket. Yet that was not the worst. The first version of the British hardback Dragons was bad enough to give me nightmares, all done in bilious purple and pink, with two hollow-eyed zombies purporting to be Llywelyn and Joanna. It looked like a medieval version of a poster for Night of the Living Dead. Fortunately, my British editor had loathed it, too, but had been outvoted by the marketing department, and she was able to get it deep-sixed after the extremely negative reaction from me and both of my agents. They had to settle hastily for a generic scene of knights on horseback, but that was still such an improvement that I was quite happy to go with bland.
I don’t think I have one particular favorite book cover, though I confess to being partial to the hardback edition of Time and Chance because I found that image of a twelfth century lion myself while browsing in the on-line collection of the Cloisters. Most of them I have liked, although I confess I was not crazy about the hardback edition jacket used by my American publisher for Devil’s Brood. I was in the minority, and had no real objections to it; it simply did not resonate with me at the time. But after we visited the chapel in Chinon during my Eleanor tour last year and I got to see the actual twelfth century mural for myself, I found my views changing and now I smile whenever I pick up a copy of Devil’s Brood, for it calls up memories of that very special day. In terms of my input, I have a lot with Putnam’s and Macmillan has been wonderful, too, about consulting me. For many years, I had no say in the paperback covers on either side of the Atlantic; I was often not even shown a cover beforehand. Thankfully that has changed dramatically now with Ballantine, which has been extremely receptive to my ideas, and Macmillan is publishing my books both in hardback and paperback so there is no problem there, either.
But I am very happy with Ballantine’s regal lion and Macmillan’s battle-weary king, since I assume he is meant to be Richard, after what was obviously a hard day at the office. The jacket used by my American publisher, Putnam’s, was taken from a nineteenth century painting depicting Richard and Philippe in the Holy Land, so it is not only visually very compelling, it is historically on-target. Putnam’s art department deserves much credit for discovering it. I am already very curious about the book cover for Sunne in Splendour when it gets its rare rebirth in hardback next September in the UK. Of course I am so pleased that Sunne will be available in hardback after thirty years that they could probably publish it in a brown paper wrapper and I wouldn’t complain—too much.
Because of the merciful extension that my publishers have given me for A King’s Ransom, that will mean it will not be published until 2014, as I explained in an earlier Facebook Note. But I was not going to be able to meet the original deadline, despite my increasingly frantic efforts to do so, so this extension is a blessing for the book and for my peace of mind.
So on that happy note, I am signing off, hoping the new year is off to a good start for all of my friends and readers, who happen to be the best readers on the planet. (You know who you are.)
January 1, 2013