One of the best things about being a writer is that moment when I get to see the new cover of my book. I have never been disappointed; receiving that file in my inbox is always a huge joy and thrill. I’m lucky, too—Dorchester has a fantastic art department, with a lead time of about eight to nine months on each of my covers. Meaning, The Red Heart of Jade is being released next month—but the art department began asking questions about the story in September 2005.
I receive the same questionnaire each time, and it’s amazing to me how perfectly the artists manage to capture the essence of the story based on my answers. Here are the questions and my answers to the art department’s inquiry about The Red Heart of Jade. I’ve taken out anything that might be a spoiler—which quite a bit, actually.
Description of the setting: time-period, geography, etc.
Modern times. Most of the story will take place in various locations throughout Asia, such as the Yushan mountains of Taiwan, the back alleys of Hong Kong, Beijing’s Forbidden City, and finally, the Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area in Sichuan Province, where the big final action in the book takes place. [spoilers follow, and note: a lot of those locations didn’t actually make it into the book]
Physical description of the hero and heroine: height, build, hair, eyes, age, and any distinctive clothing.
The hero’s name is Dean Campbell. He is not very tall – I would say around 5’7” or so – but he is lean, well-built, and has short blond hair and blue eyes. He’s in his mid-thirties. He’s a bit of a slob and always goes casual. Jeans and a t-shirt are about as fancy as he gets.
The heroine’s name is Miri Lee. She is about 5’4” and is ethnically Chinese. I imagine her resembling the actress Gong Li. She has long black hair, a very keen gaze, and is delicately beautiful. She is in her early thirties, and is a Professor of Archaeology. Her wardrobe is elegant, classy.
Please include any scenes you think may lend themselves to cover treatment.
There are several elements to this story that are quite important (and which I think would look great on a cover):
1. In the very beginning of the story, Dean’s chest is set on fire and burned with a mysterious inscription, written in an ancient, and very indecipherable, text (which is my mind looks somewhat curvy, almost like Tolkein’s Elvish). This inscription plays a HUGE role in the story…[yet more spoilers follow]
2. There is an elderly [spoiler] who can transform into a dragon. While in animal form, [spoiler] resembles the dragons of traditional Chinese art (a feathered head, etc). [spoiler] often, however, makes partial shifts, which means the top half is human, while the lower half is full dragon. [spoiler] is naked when doing this. [spoilers, spoilers, yada, yada, yada]
And here is the finished product!
Gorgeous. I will admit that the girl does not exactly resemble Gong Li, but I’m happy anyway.