“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
So, like most writers, that’s what I did.
I love fantasy but I’d run out of books I wanted to read, stories of action, adventure, magic and – yes – passion. Something between Stardust and Game of Thrones. I love Gaiman’s mix of adventure and romance, and I loved G. R. R. Martin’s political intrigue and action. What surprises and puzzles me is the criticism I get for putting moments of positive romance/sex in my books, but no one has a problem with Martin’s incest/rape storylines. (I understand why he did it, btw.).
What I didn’t want were helpless heroines who needed to be rescued. I wanted strong, capable heroines like the Queens in real life. No one could say that Elizabeth I was a shrinking violet, that Catherine the Great didn’t earn that honorific, or that Victoria wasn’t able to lead her country through difficult times. Or Elizabeth II for that matter. And while some did it alone, others found a partner to stand beside them.
I wanted to write about the price of rule, the sacrifices good rulers have to make for the sake of the people they serve.
I wanted to write about people who struggled to find balance, who succeeded or failed, the repercussions of their actions, and – for one character – his redemption.
In other words, people you could know or relate to, people you could care about. Or hate.
That’s what I wrote. Whether I succeed or not, I’ll let you decide.
What inspired me to write the book? The statues of Nike of Samothrace and another called Night Descending – it was as if she was coming to a landing – and suddenly the first chapter was there in my head. I had no idea what would happen next, I just followed that winged muse until the story was written.
So I gave it to an editor and went in search of cover.
At that time, it was difficult to find a good cover artist – so I made my own. I once was and still am a portrait artist, but with so many selfies, there’s less demand. Apparently, I was a good enough cover artist, my first cover for Song of the Fairy Queen won an award. Unfortunately, it just didn’t quite convey Kyriay’s sheer badassery, her strength and courage.
By that time, the Coming Storm fantasy series and Song of the Fairy Queen were doing well enough that I could afford to invest in professional covers. So I hired a company to do one. Their covers were amazing, including a few by other writers I knew. It was a lot of money for me at the time, but once I saw what they created for me, I knew it was worth it. That cover was perfect.
So, imagine my sinking heart when, after nearly seven years, someone told me that the same image was on another cover. I knew it was stock art and anyone can buy stock images, but mine had been chosen for this book and the other cover was almost an exact copy except for the title. In a way, it’s a compliment to my good taste in covers, but it might explain some of the confusion about elements of the book – the other author writes for a younger audience, or at least that book was.
I was heartbroken. That cover was so good. And I’d paid what was for me, at the time, a lot of money for it.
All that aside, the person who’d brought it to my attention asked if I or the cover artist knew the image had been used on another book and was it proprietary?
I thought the cover artist had the right to know so I emailed them. I explained to them that I would understand if it was a stock image.
They told me it was, but if I wanted a new cover they would create a new one for me for a discount.
Now that’s class and professionalism. (I’ll name them with kudos once I see the new cover.)
At first, though, I have to be honest and say I resisted. I loved that cover. It’s so good, so right for the book.
The quality of their work, though, is incredible. (They’ve come up with some other covers for me since then.)
Given that quality and that they offered a new cover at a discount, made it impossible to turn down.
Now I can’t wait to see what they come up with this time!
Song of the Fairy Queen – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004774N2S
For all my books – https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Douglas/e/B0036POJZI