Lionel Shriver, the author of the novel We Need to Talk About Kevin, is apparently publishing a new novel soon — and she isn’t too thrilled with the cover design process. In an arts column for The Guardian, Shriver writes: “Maybe 13 really is unlucky — since that’s the number of cover designs for my new novel that my publisher has already run through, and not one of them works.” Shriver is strangely fixated on the idea that her cover must bear an original illustration — no stock photography for her — and she seems a little fuzzy on the distinction between designer and illustrator, expressing bafflement that her publisher’s designers haven’t simply sat down and whipped off some drawings themselves.
As if to illustrate how much subjective personal preferences play into this kind of thing, Shriver points approvingly to the cover of one of her earlier books: “My first novel used Henri Rousseau’s The Dream, into which the heads of my characters were carefully hand-painted, in the same style, peeking through the foliage.” Which serves as an always-welcome reminder that one person’s kitsch-alarm igniter is another’s clever vision.
Not to worry, though — in the end, Shriver sat down with pencil crayons and did the job herself. “I drew my own damn book cover — luminous, one-of-a-kind, and, like one of Tolstoy’s real beauties, not quite perfect. We’ll see if my publisher bites.” Quillblog would love to eavesdrop on that meeting.
Weirdly, in the same column Shriver abruptly switches gears to take on — drumroll please — the aesthetic bankruptcy of free jazz. No word yet on whether she’s presented Ornette Coleman with a few tips on how to play the sax.
Click here for the Lionel Shriver column