Judging a Book by Its CoverI can only hope my book will be judged by its cover. From the moment I saw the book jacket for The Red Queen Dies, I was in love. The design team – Helen Werner Cox, illustrator; John Hamilton Design; and David Rotstein — had given me a book jacket that not only captures the spirit of the book but also helped me to define what the series will be about.
There he was, the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland – who appears in the book as a
pendant that the third victim is wearing when she is found. On the book jacket, the White Rabbit has his pocket watch in one hand and knife in the other. The knife is an addition to his usual attire, a sly
whimsical twist on a familiar character – a lethal twist, perfect for a mystery.
The White Rabbit with the deadly looking weapon held behind his back helps to make it clear at a
glance that this book is indeed a mystery. The words “a mystery” that appear beneath the title reinforce the fact that this book is a mystery. I was worried about whether the genre of my book would be clear. When you write a police procedural set in the near-future (2019), there is the possibility that some readers will pick the book up expecting sci-fi or fantasy. If you’re the author of the book, a White Rabbit with a knife in his hand and the words “a mystery” are welcome.
The book jacket helped me to define the series with much more precision. I was already well into
the first draft of the second book – working title, Cock Robin’s Funeral -- when I saw the cover image for The Red Queen Dies. When Marketing shortened the title of my first book --originally The Red Queen’s Last Bow – to the pithy and easy to remember The Red Queen Dies, I was reminded of the value of brevity. Seeing the cover for The Red Queen Dies gave me a visual image that went to the heart of the series I want to write. I already knew that the themes and the titles for future books would be drawn from children literature and folk ballads. But the cover helped me to define the world in which my characters live.
In their world, there is a kind of Wonderland effect that is chronic. In my straight police procedurals, that are neither sci-fi nor fantasy, there is and must be a kind of abnormal normal (for lack of a better expression). I draw heavily on the history of the real Albany, New York, but my world of 2019 and after exist as a parallel universe/alternate reality. In this world, life is not only post-9/11, but postUFO-sighting (2012). Climate change is an everyday fact of life and occasional misery. A good cup of
coffee doesn’t come cheap, and, although the marvels of technology have transformed some lives, the
poor have been left behind. In fact, technology sometimes doesn’t work – blame Mother Nature and lack of money to make repairs. War is on-going. Robots are becoming more common.
It is a world of haves and have nots, and politics -- as always – affects how my cops do their job.
The media are still present and even more pervasive. This is a world in which teenage “space zombies” and “droogie boy” gangs reflect the alienation of near-future youth. This is a world of fear and anxiety and occasional delight. My cops need to have grit, determination, and a sense of humor to solve crimes in this world. That’s what I need to remember as I move through the series. All of this came together in my mind – Eureka! -- when I saw that sly White Rabbit on my book jacket.
About the Author:Frankie Y. Bailey is an associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice, UAlbany (SUNY). She has received nominations for Edgar, Macavity, and Anthony awards for her non-fiction works. She is the author of a mystery series featuring Southern crime historian Lizzie Stuart. Her near-future police procedural series (set in Albany, New York and featuring Detective Hannah McCabe) debuts with The Red Queen Dies (Minotaur Books, September 2013). Bailey is a past executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America and the immediate past president of Sisters in Crime. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America.
One lucky reader will receive an ARC of The Red Queen Dies by this fabulous author. We're going to keep this contest for U.S. Residents and all you have to do is fill out the form below and cross your fingers your name will be the one Rafflecopter randomly selects. Good luck everyone and thank you so much again Frankie for stopping by with your post and for offering up this wonderful giveaway!!
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