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|
|Oriental Beauty, by Emile Vernet-Lecomte - 1869|
|Two Musician Girls, by Osman Hamdi Bey - 1880|
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 Fotolia.com. 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?