I’ve finalized the cover for Mourningtide:
I wanted to follow the format of the other covers, using sculpture that tied in to the story itself. This took some doing. There was no statue of the main character that I could use with any success. I had had the notion of showing the king in mourning. One of the serene sculptures of that era – but with tears in its eyes – was what I had envisioned, but I had no success with sculpture in the round. In fact, my efforts – using the famous black statue of Ramesses II found in the Turin (Italy) museum – were particularly unfortunate. The disembodied face with tear-streaked cheeks looked like nothing so much as Darth Vader, hung-over, leering down over the planet of Tatooine. It was so bad, I deleted it in its entirety once I was able to sit up straight and wipe the tears (of laughter) from my own eyes. So it was back to the drawing board.
After a lot of searching I chose to use this bas-relief from the tomb of my hero. With the sort of arrogance that utterly flabbergasts me whenever I encounter it, people who came to the tomb in the early nineteenth century decided that they would cut it away from the wall and take it back to Florence with them. It is now in the Louvre. This depiction seemed to be the best prospect, though I could have wished the headdress had been a little different. People, looking at long hair and what they perceive as makeup (kohl circling the eyes; worn by both sexes in Egypt), tend to think “Ah! A woman!” For those in the know, those two gold strands around the king’s neck are military decorations of the highest order – ‘the Gold of Honor’. This is a warrior-king. I mention it in the story:
Ptahemhat smiled and offered a packet wrapped in cloth. “Lord Nebamun sent these with me. I’m ordered to hand them over to you after you have been stopped from throttling me and, by reference His Holiness.”
I have earlier versions of this cover in this blog; separating the figure from the background was awkward, and I decided to keep it in situ, though I did blot out the extraneous writing at the top. Fitting the carving into the frame of the cover was a challenge, but I think it worked. I like having the hands and the edge of the wig overlap the borders of the frame. The gradient coloring worked well, too, highlighting the blue and gold balance.
Now I absolutely must not fiddle with it any more. (And it would help if I could finish the novel, which is currently at about 77,000 words – 320 pages.)
(Added July 22, 2015:
|Mourningtide: Final Cover|
Of course, being myself I ended up fiddling further with the cover after I received a trial print of the book, which made me realize that the cover would not work.
The tone/tint of the flesh came out too red on the cover. This was fix-able, but other things simply looked wrong. While this is a depiction of a king wearing the standard ceremonial headgear of the time, the depiction looked, even to my eyes, a little too much like a woman in heavy makeup wearing a wig.
I did some further work and created this image.
The bas-relief is from Seti’s great mortuary temple at Abydos, which was finished by his son, Ramesses the Great. The tear took a log time to get right, but it worked, actually, much better than the original concept.
I was able to return to my notion of monumental sculpture, featuring one or another of the characters, whether directly involved in the story or related in some way to the story, as the focal point.