October 30, 2004

Cover Me

Warner’s art department has made me the most beautifulest cover. EVER. I can hardly go on. I look at it and tremble with love. Want to go see? ONLY go if you have a GOOD, GOOD connection because it is a HUGE file. RUN AND GO SEE like Rikki-Tikki-Tavi! Assuming you are a mongoose with a cable modem.

ADDENDUM: If you are on dial-up you can see a SMALLER fast loading version here! BIG THANKS dej! (dej is apparently the girl-version of Shawn Box.)

So at this cocktail party in New York I met the art director who designed the cover. VERY cool woman. SO cool. I am not just blowing smoke here. She’s cool so deep she’s practically cool on the cellular level. Okay, you know how when Meg Ryan’s husband got kidnapped, Russell Crowe went on and on about how he needed proof of life before they would pay? Well, here below I shall offer you PROOF OF COOL in four words. Ready?

She read the book.

This may seem like a no brainer. I mean, she’s designing the cover, so of COURSE you would think she read the book right? Right? *cough* Well. Let’s just say it doesn’t ALWAYS happen that way. A cynic would go so far as to say it often times does not happen that way. But I am not a cynic. So. Let’s just agree on her extreme coolness and let it go at that.

When I first saw the cover and met her, I GUSHED all over her, “OH! OH! OH! See how the girl is kinda CROUCHED over the wheel, hell for leather, with her shoulders set and tense, she’s all HUNCHED and VOLOTILE, roaring South on a mission with NO SEAT BELT? Well. That’s Arlene! You’ve pegged Arlene exactly!”

And she started laughing and she said, “Do you know what it took to get that shot?”

First of all, they were out in JERSEY because apparently Jersey is “the country” to people who live in New York. (Sticking a Weed in my Teeth and Snickering at Urbanites aside, I have to admit that the rail fence and the rolling green vine-covered hills and golden-brown frondy-wheaty things? It LOOKS like the drive you encounter post-Nashville.)

Anyway they get out to the shoot, and the convertible sent to meet them has headrests. SO it’s no good. One of the tech guys there says “Hey, my cousin has some kind of old convertible without headrests. And he lives out here in Jersey.” SO the whole crew sits around while he goes and steals his cousins car. Then they start driving up and down this little piece of road with the photographer perched precariously on the back shooting and getting ill as hornets with the model’s hair, which is not apparently BLOWING properly.

So they stop driving up and down, and set up all these FANS and the photographer still-shoots it and….the model’s hair will NOT behave. It won’t get behind the project. The hair has NO vision and is not being a team player.

BACKSTORY: Before the shoot I had the following series of e-mails (which I shall paraphrase) with Warner.
Warner: What color is Arlene’s hair?
Me: Long, dark and brown.
Warner: Really?
Me: Really.
Warner: Are you SURE?
Me: Positive. It is long dark brown hair. Brown like a mink. Long like my wind. Dark like the darkling night of the new moon.
Warner: But what about in the sections in the PAST?
Me: Long. Dark. Brown.
Warner. What about the sections in the PRESENT?
Me: In every section in every time, her hair is long and also dark and also brown, it was longdarkbrown when she burst from the womb, she shall die in her bed at 80, surrounded by her grandchildren and her longddarkbrown tresses, she will go to heaven where it will be longdarkbrown into eternity, world without end, amen.

Back at the shoot, the Long! Dark! Brown! hair is still displeasing the photographer by refusing to react to wind properly. Finally, they march over to a farmhouse nearby and borrow a leaf blower. They park the car in the most Alabama-y spot in Jersey and rev up the machine and…*click!* Perfection.

In other words? The REASON Arlene-on-the-cover looks so tense and hell-bent and PERFECTLY ARLENE-ISH? Is that the poor model has been hunching around in Jersey all day long while they swapped out cars and drove up and down and berated her hair and she’s exhausted and HAD IT and NOW, JUST off camera, a techman is peeling her lips back and pouring gritty lawn detritus directly into her eyeballs by blasting her in the face with a leaf blower.

Hey. Whatever works.

PS AS SOON as Scott can make me a thumbprint version I will re-do the gods in Alabama page. HEY-- I DID put some of the blurbs up! And um um um! What do you think of the cover? And, um, Can anyone figure out what is showing IN ARLENE'S REVIEW MIRROR?

Posted by joshilyn at October 30, 2004 10:27 AM

It is wonderful. I love it! And it's just so real-looking, isn't it? Now I know what to look for in the bookstores when it comes out. And I promise I will grab total strangers and thrust the book into their faces and say, "You must buy this book! And copies for your friends! Because I know her! And I have not yet read this book myself but I am sure it is a great and wonderful book!" And your publisher will say, "Why is there this huge sales spike in this very small town?" and you will know it is where I live.

Can you tell I've been in the Halloween candy and I'm feeling really happy? Wonderful, wonderful sugar.

Posted by: Jensgalore at October 30, 2004 11:12 AM

That cover is SO COOL! :D

Posted by: Klint at October 30, 2004 3:15 PM

Really beautiful cover! And I'm not positive, but I enlarged the cover and it looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon is reflected in her side mirror...

Posted by: Ginny at October 30, 2004 3:23 PM

Great cover! Love that longdarkbrown hair. =) If your book is anywhere near as funny as the dialog in "Cover me", I've just gotta have this book!

I'm pretty sure that stuff in the rearview mirror is the convertible top frame, which is also visible at the lower left corner of the pic. The camera has a shallower reflecting angle to the mirror than the driver's eyes do. If you cheated and adjusted the mirror, you could get a view back down the road.

Posted by: David Gray at October 30, 2004 7:43 PM

I am practically drooling. Cover is divine. Can NOT wait to read. When is it out?

Posted by: Heather at October 30, 2004 8:26 PM

Love it!! Not exactly "Alabama the Beautiful", but improved! They should have put a faux fruit stand in the background with a "Boiled Peanuts" sign to authenticate. Ha.

Posted by: KarenB at October 30, 2004 8:32 PM


It's the face! on! Mars!!one!!11!eleventy!

Lovely cover, lovely YOU.

Posted by: jill at October 30, 2004 10:50 PM

Jen will be telling people to read the book and it's wonderful, and I, too, will be THINKING that, but what I will actually be SAYING is, "HEY! Did you know this picture on the cover was NOT taken in Alabama? NO, REALLY. It was done in JERSEY. How do I know? Why, I am close personal friends with the author. Yes."

The cover really is fab, my bizarre stalkerish babbling aside. ;)

Posted by: Mir at October 31, 2004 12:28 AM

...as to the strange geographical world-views of New Yorkers....

...My company announced that our next manager's conference was to be held in Nashville. An absolutely "stunned buzz" went through the crowd, broken by a New York born Cuban-American who blurted out, "Nashville...Where the hell is Nashville?...Isn't that where the eskimo's live?"

Yes, New Jersey is indeed the "country."

Posted by: 3 at October 31, 2004 9:14 AM

I'm sure it's wonderful! Except...I get nothing. :(

Posted by: AGK at October 31, 2004 11:04 AM

Hey - love the cover art too. It must be such a relief to find your work in such a safe pair of hands.

Is your novel getting a UK release?

Thanks, by the way, for the encouragement on the blog. I really appreciate it.

best -


Posted by: c at October 31, 2004 7:55 PM

You must be most excited(he asks knowingly).

Posted by: Shawn B. at November 1, 2004 2:52 PM

My mom is cool???? How can you say Anne Twomey is cool..... you dont live with her!!!!!!!!!!!! Yeah okay *maybe* she is good at designing book covers but does that really make her "COOL"? I find your writing very amusing.

Posted by: katherine twomey at November 1, 2004 8:50 PM

Hi! I just bopped over from http://dispatchesfromfrance.blogspot.com/. I love the cover! I'll keep an eye out for it in the stores here in Germany. Btw, I skipped the BookFair in Frankfurt this year, but I went last year. It's huge!

As for Jersey, I lived there for five years. Once I picked up a friends bridesmaid in Staten Island because otherwise she wasn't going to come to the rehearsal dinner. Why? The "country" air inflamed her allergies. Um, excuse me? Central Jersey, on the turnpike, is country?? Lol. :)

Posted by: Anna at November 2, 2004 5:13 PM

I love reading and it's usually the cover that makes me decide whether to buy the book. that cover is wonderful and I'd definitely buy it. *goes to buy it*

Posted by: Jaynee at November 4, 2004 11:38 AM