Sunday, June 5, 2011


Hi folks,

By Danda © Bare Knuckles Press

I have some news to share with you. Here is a treatment of the book cover for my existential novella, THE RAPIST to be published by Bare Knuckles Press which will come out this fall (tentative date is October). The managing editor, Eddie Vega, commissioned the cover to the design firm of Butterflies & Hurricanes in Prague. The artist’s name is Danda. There is a full design team in place and the design director Eddie worked with is Kamil Petr. Danda is the same artist Eddie, Cort McMeel and Alan Ward Thomas are working with to create the cover of their forthcoming magazine, Noir Nation, which is getting lots of buzz among the noir community.

The image at this point is just the treatment of a concept and Eddie, Danda, Kamil and the design team will continue to work on it. It’s a copyrighted image, issued to Bare Knuckle Press… which means, in Eddie’s words, “We have the right to give permission to you and your blog readers to copy it and paste and share it any way you like, reblog it wherever. Put it on Facebook, Twitpics, Flickr, wherever, with the rightful credits: by Danda © Bare Knuckles Press. The copyright notice is for the benefit of the legacy publishers--if they try to use it for one of their covers, we are coming after them with bare knuckles.”

Note: The name “Bare Knuckles Press” was chosen to reflect books the publisher and editor feel are “books worth fighting for.”

Generally, as Eddie tells me, book covers are tightly-held secrets in publishing. In his words, “They want to create suspense and surprise. We at Bare Knuckles Press have a different philosophy. We want discussion. And we mean it. We are not talking about false thermostats that give people the false belief that they can control the temperature in their office, when in fact it’s just a box on a wall that is not connected to anything. Because that image is still just a treatment, we would love to see your readers’ feedback. And we will seriously consider their comments as we continue working on the cover.”

Here are some additional notes, Eddie gave me. “The final piece should be in color, perhaps blue monochrome, though still shadowy. It should also be painterly. Currently, it looks like a panel from a graphic novel. The artistic style of the cover should be consistent with the narrative’s high and serious purpose—Crime and Punishment. Other than those, the only adjustment I would like to see made is turning the hand around so we see the fingers more, with an upturned arc, so they suggest a questioning that softens the combativeness of the heaving chest. Right now, it seems the inmate is simply uttering an existential cry. Turning the hand slightly, would very subtly change it into an existential cry for an explanation. Basically, it becomes Job questioning God in prison. Right now the message is more like Martin Luther at the Council of Worms, 'Here I stand. I can do no other.'”
Eddie went on to say: “Danda's talent really shows here--is in the way the inmate's head is given great attention by the background light. Yet the overall feeling is one of confinement. He is surrounded by bars. Another thing I liked very much, and here I think it is very subtle, is the position of the inmate's body to the open cells. It's not really clear which cell is his. Were he closer to the any one of them, then this sense of uncertainty would not be there. However, the uncertainty remains. Yet, here is the genius of the positioning; there are three places he could go. And each one is as bleak as the other.”

As you can determine, by my editor’s careful remarks, Bare Knuckles Press is paying a great deal of attention to the cover. This isn’t something they’re just throwing to some hack artist to whip out in a day or two. They pay the same meticulous attention to the editing of the manuscript, believe me! I am working harder on rewrites for THE RAPIST than I have for any other book I’ve written. It’s an intense labor and I feel I am in the hands of literary geniuses. We, as writers, often decry the lack of a Maxwell Perkins in today’s literary climate, but I feel I’ve been fortunate and blessed to have two brilliant editors in Eddie Vega and Cort McMeel who operate at the same level as Mr. Perkins did in the golden age of literature.

This novel is unlike any I’ve ever written—before or since. It is a brutally honest novel; one with which I shut out the voices of the censors, both without and within, and dug down deep inside to that dark place most of us avoid, and with one goal in mind—to deliver the best truth I was capable of. Early reviews by accomplished authors I respect, seem to offer some proof that I’ve achieved my objective, as it has been compared to work by such writers as Camus, Celine, Faulkner, Poe, and Bukowski. That’s very heady praise and I have to admit it feels good, but the proof will be when it’s finished and “out there” and how the public perceives it.

I do know one thing—it won’t be a book the politically-correct crowd will endorse. And that, to me, is a very good thing. My aim is that it fit the description, Jean Paulhan wrote in the preface to the infamous Story of O, where he said, “Dangerous books are those that restore us to our natural state of danger.”
I’m hoping that readers will relay to us any ideas they might have to improve the cover. As Eddie says, they’ll seriously consider your input.

Hope you like the cover! Your comments are welcomed!

Blue skies,


Tiffany said...

Sounds like a book that make my skin crawl. Can't wait to read it.

Les Edgerton said...

I don't think it will be a book for the faint-of-heart, Tiffany. Hope not, anyway... It's a dark book and one with serious thought behind it.

BTW, I didn't get a chance to answer your emails (or others!) as for the past two days I've been out of town attending my graduating class reunion and didn't have my 'puter. Hope to catch up on yours and others emails in the next day or two. Thanks for your patience!

Paul D Brazill said...

That's a great pic and The Rapist sounds like it's going to be a hell of a book.

Robin B. said...

I really like the initial concept for this cover, Les, and I think the ideas of doing the final cover in blues, which fits so very well, figuratively, along with the turning of the hand, are fine ones!
And I like the ambiguity of the man's positioning.

I'm really looking forward to holding a copy of this book in my hand.

Isabelle Chicoine said...

Les, great cover and great premise/promise of a book. A few thoughts: the first glance conveys, of course, the image of prisoner in between (not behind) bars; second impression is "light at the end of the tunnel"; a closer look takes in the scattered contents of the food tray, suggesting something's happened. Is he attempting an escape? the shadow of the open hand is rather relaxed. The knees are stretched, versus bent in defeat, the general arc of the body conveying victory, but the absence of movement suggests the prisoner can't go any further than outside his cell. That's my take...
Take good care,

Les Edgerton said...

Wow, Isabelle! You are truly prescient! This is a low-concept book so I can't reveal too much in concrete terms, but your observations tell me that Eddie has absolutely come up with the perfect cover! Just about everything you said does, in fact, pertain closely to what happens in the book. Hate to be a tease, but when it comes out (and if you read it!), you'll see how stunningly close you've come to the events in it. How much would you charge to read my fortune? I have a feeling you'd be spot-on!

Paul, I'm so glad you like the picture! I wanted to see if you'd read it, but not until we've gone through the final edit. Hopefully, you'll give it a looksee!

And, Robin, your opinion means an awful lot to me--thank you!

Isabelle Chicoine said...

Les, it seems to me you found the perfect book cover designer! :)

Les Edgerton said...

Thanks, Isabelle, but all credit for finding this designer goes to the editor, Eddie Vega. It was like he read my mind... and cleaned up the room!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE it, Les. Based on what you've said, it really fits the book. (which I can't wait to read) The whole politically correct movement is such a disaster. Why we deny who and what we are and refuse to embrace both the pride and the shame is beyond me. We aren't one dimensional. Being politically correct only means denying truth. No one wins. Good for you!

Les Edgerton said...

Dawn... AMEN. You just said it wonderfully.

Unknown said...

My first impression was that the guy on the cover was angry, frustrated, after maybe trying to escape from confinement, but I can see that the image is ambiguous. He could be exulting in some success or other...I'm amazed at the skill, the care and attention to detail that produced this cover art.

Glynis Peters said...

Catching up on your posts, Les. Good to follow your journey and love the cover!

The basics of writing list is useful, thanks.