Cover Contest 2003
Historical Single Covers
(Mary Lynne Nielsen, Ballot Chair)
Mary Lynne has headed this category for several years now, and has watched trends over time. She had several interesting remarks about this year’s slate:
“When I look at these covers, I’m struck by several things: yet again, the lack of couples in classic clinch poses, the emphasis on solo women, and use of color.
“The Winter Mantle is one of only three covers in the final slate to show a couple. However, that couple is not in a clinch, or another classic romance-novel cover pose showing an interrelationship. They’re distant from one another, small in the vast chilliness of their bleak winter landscape. The woman is on the ground, the man is mounted on his horse. All these differences set up questions about their scenario in our minds, and make it a very intriguing cover.
“The other covers to feature a couple, The Impostor’s Kiss and Taboo, are the polar opposites of The Winter Mantle. The Impostor’s Kiss features a close-up of a couple, a photo image rather than painted like TWM. The background is black, emphasizing the features and expressions of this couple. It’s intimate and expressive of their relationship. This is much closer to a ‘traditional’ couple cover for romance novels, but the use of the photo image and the stark simplicity of the background combine for a striking visual.
“Taboo takes a couple’s intimacy and moves it to an entirely different level. The distance of TWM is entirely removed here. Instead, we see a couple engaged in a vitally intimate moment. This is a challenging cover, and a polarizing one. Are you enticed by the relationship you see here? Repelled? Does the artistic merit of the cover sell the image to you? As readers of romance, do we find the direction shown in this cover positive or negative?
(Side note–I find it fascinating that, year in, year out, you see a lot of classic clinch covers published, but they never make it through this competition, either in nominations or in selection.)
“The remainder of our final slate features women alone. Yet again, this theme is enormously popular. But there is a great range within that statement, ‘women alone.’ If you look at the expressions of the women shown on these covers, they run the gamut, from the stark heartbreak of The Betrayal to the serene happiness of Under the Wishing Star, the enigmatic direct gaze of Thorn in my Heart to the ghostly abstraction of Susannah Morrow. All of them hint at a story behind the expression, which is perhaps why we like these covers so much.”
Cover artist: Steve Stone The Winter Mantle won this category in a landslide vote. It beat its competitors soundly, receiving more votes than any other cover in the contest. Voters described it as beautiful and evocative. Many wondered at the symbolism of the couple on opposite sides of the river, and more than one expressed a desire to go find the book so they could learn more about the people on the cover.
Shelly thought it was perfect for the book: “It perfectly captures the main theme of the novel, and before I read it I wanted to know why these two were on opposite sides of the stream, what kept them there, and where and how they’d meet.”
Amanda’s description was as poetic as the cover itself: “The wintry scene reflects both bleakness of the spirit, yet paradoxically a meditative beauty—fronting a mist-obscured, enigmatic castle.”
Michelle loved it as well: “This cover is quite lovely,