Sunday, 5 February 2012

My Olympics novel

Progress on The Boy

Last weekend I spent an afternoon and evening working with Kate of Amber Images on the cover of The Boy with Two Heads. And this weekend I’m working on the final check of the text and its styling. So there is progress!

There was a photograph of a statue we had seen on the internet that we wanted to use on the cover but we needed permission from its owner. After many emails and phone calls (the owner works for a huge international corporation with offices in London and the phone answering mechanism does not allow you to speak to a human being) and a visit to the offices where I was not allowed even to leave a message, we decided to try our fallback solution.

Alexandra, who lives in Athens, had taken some photos of the same statue. She sent them to us by email, but Kate and Connie felt that none of them would be crisp enough to use on a book cover. However, in the circumstances, Kate was prepared to have a go with one of them.

The Youth of Antikythera
Alexandra's 'before' photo
Kate's 'after' photo (with a little
help from Photoshop)
I cannot thank Alexandra (who held her camera way above her head to get a level image of the face) and Kate (who has a winning combination of patience and skill) enough for this image of the Boy, Themis.

The statue is called the Youth of Antikythera and is two metres tall. It was found in heavily corroded pieces at the bottom of the sea off the island of Antikythera in 1900. Elisabeth Myers has written a detailed thesis on it and Wikipedia also has a page about it where you can see how high Alexandra must have reached! It is now in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, along with hundreds of other amazing works of art from Ancient Greece. The Youth of Antikythera was their Object of the Month for January this year.

While Kate was working on this and other aspects of the cover, I was fascinated by her pet snake, two cats and a puppy. The snake lives in a huge glass tank and eats a mouse every week or two. Kate says he’s more than a metre long and three or four centimetres in diameter in the middle, but I only saw his head poking out from behind his log. He yawned at me.

The cats were almost as lazy, but easier to stroke… And the puppy was just adorable, a bundle of fluff either constantly on the move or flat out asleep on the carpet.

By the end of a day when all I had done was play with the animals and answer some questions as to preferences, magically we had the main components of the cover in place! Connie of Trifolium Books has put this picture on her blog, too. It's not 100% perfect, but we all feel it's getting there.

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