Inspiration, And Then Some

Let’s talk covers, shall we?  As most romance readers know, writers often look to actors and actresses for inspiration when developing their characters.  It’s a fun way to bring the hero and heroine to life in our imaginations.  Typically, a writer spends months on a book, imagining the hero looks remarkably like Gerard Butler, for instance.  Said writer may have even been asked by her editor to provide detailed descriptions of her hero (and heroine), which is then passed along to the art department.  With crossed fingers, the writer then spends the intervening weeks praying the cover will at least remotely match the descriptions she provided to her editor.

Finally, the day arrives and that much-anticipated cover jpg. lands in the writer’s email box.  With pounding heart, the writer clicks on the jpg. and then…well, sometimes they get it right.  Often they don’t but it’s still a great cover, and every once in a while it can be an unmitigated disaster.

How have the cover gods treated me?  Extremely well, IMHO, thanks to the fantastic art department at Kensington Publishing.  The models didn’t always match what was in my head, though, so I thought it might be fun to look at what I imagined and what actually happened – particularly with my heroes.  So here are my covers, starting withMastering The Marquess at the top of the page.  Let’s see how they match up with the actors I used for inspiration.

For Stephen, the Marquess of Silverton, I imagined him played by the beautiful and tragic Heath Ledger.

Now glance up and compare that to the guy at the top of the page.  Not so much, although I think MTM has a great cover.  But the hero looks more like a cross between Brad Pitt and a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, which more than one person pointed out to me.  Whoever he looks like, he does have a great set of abs.

In  my next book, Sex and the Single Earl, I imagined the hero, Lord Trask, to look much like Christian Bale.

And here’s the cover.

Pretty good matchup and, again, great abs.

For my novella in An Invitation To Sin, I based the hero, Captain Christian Archer, on Sean Bean in Sharpe’s Rifles.

And, the cover…

Oh, well.  Pretty, but a distinct absence of abs.

For my last book, My Favorite Countess, I used the gorgeous Hugh Jackman to provide me with inspiration for Dr. John Blackmore.

And the cover…

I was surprised when I got the email because I was expecting another clinch cover, but I certainly wasn’t unhappy.  MFC is a gorgeous cover and since I had imagined Bathsheba played by Kate Winslet, the artist definitely got the vibe.

My next book, which will be out in 2012, has a tough and handsome former soldier as its hero.  When I pictured him in my head, this is who I saw.

Yes.  Uber-handsome Henry Cavill from The Tudors.  I won’t see my cover for some months yet, but I surely a girl can dream, can’t she?

What about you, readers?  Do you cast actors for certain characters when you read a book?  Does it bother you when the cover doesn’t match the description?

17 thoughts on “Inspiration, And Then Some”

  1. I think my mental picture of characters is usually rather fuzzy. But when there is a detailed description of a character, I find myself turning to the cover to check out how they are depicted. If there isn’t a clear picture, or it doesn’t match in at least hair color or size (some heros are described as very large, but the cover model obviously isn’t in comparison to the heroine) then I am disappointed. Doesn’t stop me from reading, but if the picture matches, I’ll glance at it agian every once in a while.
    Mostly, I think covers are useful for attracting initial interest. Especially if you don’t already know the author.

  2. No, I don’t picture the romance heroes as actors or models at all. I picture them as they are described by the author in the book and mostly concentrate on their character personality and not on their looks…that said…I do like to look at yummy covers as an inspiration to purchase books:)

  3. My heroes start out talking like Alan Rickman. I am not alone in this, especially when writing historical romance. By the end of the book they are themselves, and AR has gone back to his acting career unscathed. Then I have to go back to fix the start. Because I love dialogue, I find AR an amazing imaginary friend, and I don’t undress him often.

  4. Sometimes what the author describes just isn’t how I see the character, what is stuck in my head is…well stuck. Doesn’t bother me, but if the cover has a brown haired hero and in the book he is blonde (as an example) that bothers me. It means the art department didn’t pay attention to the authors notes on the character and really screwed up.

    Love love Henry Cavill from the Tudors, he would make a GREAT cover model =)

  5. Hi Vanessa!
    When I am reading a story, my vision is of the characers is borne from my own imagination. Usually it is a mash-up of what I think they look like and bits and pieces of real life people. Never has a real life actor/actress or anyboy else become the characters for me. They are too good to be true, I guess.

    Cover models that don’t match my own visuals don’t usually bother me unless it’s really really different. In that case I ignore 🙂 The story is much more important to me.

    Congratulations on the recent Maggie win. Woot!!

  6. I am sorry if took me so long to comment on this blog. I enjoyed reading it too! LOVE Heath Ledger. No I don’t imagine actors as the characters however, when reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels I couldn’t help myself since I saw True Blood first, I just imagined Alexander as Eric. He is perfect for that character.

    Most of the time when I am reading a book I have never had an issue with the cover not matching the man, mostly the cover not matching the woman. Weird huh? I have some of those Harlequins, takes me about 2 days to read those if that. And the woman on the cover never seem to fit what I imagine them to be. So frustrating. Must be me. I guess this is why i enjoy the Historical Romance Novels. They seem to be more descriptive with their writing. Or maybe its just me? lmao.

    Tina 🙂

  7. I hate it when covers do not match up with the characters. I also check to see how closely they match up to the description. I feel like covers reflect the pride the author has in his/her work and their acknowledgement of using such a lure to peak the readers interest. When the cover is unrelated to the story, or the cover looks uninteresting, I question what the author thought of his/her own book and if they would honestly buy it seeing it on a shelf. If the cover does not include the hero and or heroine, it better be something fabulous or I likely will just pass it by. The only exception is when I am familiar with an author. I might be perusing the books by author name if I know who I am looking for. I may not like the cover, but if I am familiar with the writing at that point, the cover has less of an impact on my decision to read/buy. Although I still may question what the author was thinking when a disliked cover was chosen. Great choice for characters by the way. I loved Heath, so sad. And Christian Bale is drool worthy.

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