All is Revealed

You can’t tell a book by it’s cover. This well-known saying is sometimes true, but not always. I dimly remember scenes from an old film where a passenger in a railway carriage, male of course, concealed the pornography he was looking at behind a worthy cover. The Bible perhaps. But publishers would prefer that you could tell a book from its cover since they want to market their titles and knowing what genre a book is helps them in this.

Writers have complete control of the text, but unless they are artists as well their publishers may come up with cover designs they don’t care for but can’t do much about. To avoid this, they might commission artwork directly.

My first attempt at recruitiing a designer produced a cover for Interleaved Lives which completely ignored every word of the brief (shown in a previous post), so I tried a second designer who did his level best to fulfil it.

I liked what he had come up with, but while the publisher felt that his design had its good points they also felt it was not effective for the genre in question, namely crime. So after a week or two I found myself looking at a cover design they supplied.

And I could see what they meant. The publisher’s cover clearly shows that the book is in the crime genre and gives an indication of the content. Even more surprising to me, the artist explained his design by referring to the text. Since keeping an eye on a suspect from a car was not referred to in the blurb or the synopsis, he had actually read it!

So this is the cover I’m going with.

Politics, fiction and the Islamic State

An organisation in the Middle East is currently earning adverse publicity by cutting people’s heads off. I have yet to meet anyone who thinks this is a good idea. The usual reaction is revulsion, and I go along with that.

Particularly prone to revulsion are some of our politicians, who make their feelings very clear and, in so doing, believe they are speaking for the rest of us. Which, in most cases, they are – though some adherents of Islam can be found not only expressing their support but going over there to lend a knife or axe.

But here’s a strange thing. Several of the politicians I have heard expressing their revulsion also admit to being fans of Game of Thrones. Now whether they are genuine fans I have no way of knowing. I can think of occasions where politicians have claimed to like singers or groups, the suspicion being that their choices better reflected a desire to be ‘of the people’, to have ‘the common touch’, than music which they actually liked. In this pursuit some have even gone so far as to eat a bacon sandwich for the cameras or give two pennies to a beggar.

Which takes me back to Game of Thrones. (Don’t ask me how, but this is fantasy, right?) Some politicians may claim to like this series knowing it to be popular with the voting public, but others clearly like it for itself. One of these is Michael Gove, until recently education minister in England. (By this I mean England only: his writ did not run in other parts of the UK.) Here is the great man in action. Prepare to be inspired.

I haven’t the faintest idea what he’s talking about, but maybe you do. Anyway, my wife and I (cara sposa) were given a box set of Game of Thrones last Christmas by our son. About a month ago we watched the first of this series and knew it wasn’t for us. But this first episode was enough to show that the politicians who express such revulsion at heads being cut off in Syria and Iraq can live with it happily when it occurs in the first episode of Game of Thrones. I didn’t keep count, but at least two heads were removed from their necks in the first episode. So politicians who like this show must take the view, if they think about it at all, that there is no connection of any sort between real life and fiction.

Which may indicate several things, one of which might be that politics is itself a branch of fiction.

And now I come to think of it, politics is absent from the list of genres currently infesting the writing websites, though I can think of quite a few political novels, starting with Coningsby by Benjamin Disraeli. I feel a campaign to include it coming on, a relevant hashtag or two.

Line drawing of Disraeli

Line drawing of Disraeli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not that Game of Thrones started this unsavoury subject. I give you the Queen of Hearts, in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. ‘Off with their heads.’

If it’s in ‘Alice’ it must be alright.