Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sultana: Two Sisters - The Cover

It's that time again! You would think it might be easier with each successive title to decide on a cover for my next, Sultana: Two Sisters - wrong! Finding the right artwork to represent the Moorish period in Spain has meant hours on Wiki Commons searching for Orientalist paintings in the public domain and even more time with GIMP. Thanks to the patience and intrepid eye of my writing buddy Mirella Patzer, I've narrowed the choices down. Can you help me decide?

Here's the story: In fourteenth-century Moorish, two lifelong friends become captives, sold into the harem of Sultan Yusuf I of Granada. A young woman with a hidden heritage becomes Butayna, the Sultan’s beloved wife, while her counterpart Maryam enjoys a life of pleasure and luxury at Yusuf’s side. Each woman bears the Sultan a son and finds diverging paths in a dizzying rise to power. When only one heir may inherit the throne and only one woman can claim the revered title of Mother of the Sultan, can the bond between Butayna and Maryam survive?

The title Sultana: Two Sisters refers as much to the close bond between the pair of women, who being the novel almost like sisters, but it also alludes to a common faith and heritage they share. Three paintings seemed to represent various elements of the characters and mood of this latest title:
Aimee, A Young Egyptian, by Emile Vernet-Lecomte -1869
There's something especially striking about the figure in Emile Vernet-Lecomte's Aimee, A Young Egyptian, innocence and sensuality combined.
Oriental Beauty, by Emile Vernet-Lecomte - 1869
Equally beautiful, but somewhat more pensive and prideful is the figure in Oriental Beauty, also by Emile Vernet-Lecomte.

Two Musician Girls, by Osman Hamdi Bey - 1880
Lastly, these two figures in Osman Hamdi Bey's Two Musician Girls easily captured a scene of two young women, one clearly learning from the other, which is an important aspect of the story.

Each painting is beautiful, but neither was a perfect match for what I had in mind. While I wanted both women from the story represented on the cover, either the backgrounds were dull, the hair was wrong, or as in the case of the first two images, a single figure wouldn't be right. Thank God for GIMP! If you're willing to learn about layering images or have a wonderful buddy / tutor like Mirella to help, GIMP can be one of the best tools for an author trying to design the right cover.

Royalty-free images that provided alternate backgrounds for each picture came from With GIMP, each images from the paintings became a layer on a new background. With a few tweaks to the appearances of the duo, especially the hair, and Mirella's alignment of the two separate figures in natural poses to suit the backgrounds, new cover ideas were created! Which one do you think should be the cover of Sultana: Two Sisters?

Version 1

Version 2
Version 3

Version 4



Tara Chevrestt said...

I like version three. It just appeals to me more.

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks, Tara. I. Putting the two opposing figures together works beautifully, but I'm also worried if the background isn't a distraction.

Anita Davison said...

I like Version 1 best, the positions of the women are very symbolic, bold and dominant next to demure and shy. I think they work better.

And they are gorgeous pictures too.

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks Anita, that's another vote for version 1.

Marie Parsons said...

Hello :)

I rather like version 3 as well. I almost voted #4, because both women seem so elegant. But they also could be Byzantine ladies, not necessarily Moorish Spaniards (Spanish Moors?)

As a side note, I am more curious now, spurred by your novels, to investigate the Moorish/Muslim rule of medieval Sicily and the Muslim community in medieval Lucca, italy.

Kristen Taber said...

I'm a big fan of version 1 too, but all of them are great!

Lisa Yarde said...

Thank you, Marie. It's down to version 1 and 3 for me based on the feedback I've received.

Muslim Sicily has always fascinated me too, especially where it clashes with the Norman invasions.

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks for the feedback, Kristen. You know how critical this part of the process is, especially with that gorgeous cover of your next title.

Marie Parsons said...

Ahhh I just re-read your recount of the fun with working on these images! You remind me I don't "Graphic" well, I am such an "all-text" snob! Having said that, the Lecomte images you chose there remind me of some Roman paintings by John W Godward or John Waterhouse. I always have thought if I were writing ancient Roman women they would be among my choices. Which of course, requires I learn something about playing with images!
What I don't have yet are any choices of images for medieval Italian women.

Lisa Yarde said...

Medieval Italian women? I'll send you something to get you started, Marie. Mirella Patzer is also a great resource for this sort of stuff; her focus is Italian fiction.

Marie Parsons said...

Thank you so much, Lisa.

Yes Mirella's choice for her cover of Orphan of the Olive Tree is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I like #4 the best--I think the women in 1 and 3 look more experienced, hardened, while 2 and 4 look more young and innocent. Don't know which goes best with your story, but in #4, the neck of the musical instrument reached to the right, just like it is leading me to open to the first page and start the story... To me, graphically that is better than facing the other direction. My two bits. :) Sandy

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks Sandy, interesting observation about the youthful innocence of the two figures.

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