Death in the Floating City is a a wonderful read, as are all of Tasha Alexander’s books. As austenprose.com said of her:
“Jane Austen spoiled us. Nowadays, it’s difficult to find heroines like Elizabeth Bennet. Luckily, author Tasha Alexander decided to gift the world with a tenacious woman Austen herself would be proud of: Lady Emily Hargreaves.”
The visual was created by the amazingly talented designer Elsie Lyons. Elsie and I labored for ages to get this just right. The gorgeous hand lettering (which is stamped in purple foil on the printed jackets) was created by Iskra.
We began by presenting several John Singer Sargent paintings for consideration. Sargent’s painting of Nancy Astor was unanimously selected.
But then week after week, designs kept getting rejected. Eventually we ditched the Nancy Astor painting, reviewing tons of other historical paintings (by Sargent and others) instead.
None of the new images were right either. It was felt that the woman’s pose needed to be less formal, and that she should not be an interior setting. Existing historical portraiture has neither of these attributes. So we needed to create a new painting, but done in the Sargent style.
So we commissioned the extraordinary Aleta Rafton to create a painting. Getting the clothing historically accurate was very important, which Aleta researched.
Aleta works digitally from photographic sources. So the plan was for Aleta to show us the art prior to making it look painterly. There were some details that we wanted changed, but overall we were very pleased.
So Aleta got to work and the results were fantastic. Everyone across the board was absolutely delighted with the results!
Weeks passed, and as people were ‘living with’ the artwork a hesitation and doubt began to grow. The image looked too modern, and it was decided to completely rethink the art.
It can be hard for ‘we artists’ to hear a rejection after so much time and effort has gone into something. But it’s important to remain objective. And upon consideration, the assessment was correct. Secondly, how often do I have a change of opinion regarding my own preliminary designs after ‘living with’ them for a few weeks.
In retrospect, I think that putting her in an outdoor context and giving her a less formal pose were precisely the very things causing Aleta’s painting non-historical. So Elsie reworked the cover using a Sargent painting that had previously been rejected.
Seeing the painting in context, on a designed cover made all the difference—everyone loved it. But the bottom image was wrong. It needed to be more paintery. We also wanted a more expansive vista of the Grand Canal, and felt that we needed a gondola in the foreground.
We found a photograph that was perfect, and Aleta was able to once again use her magic to add the gondola in the foreground and transform the art into having a historical painting vibe.
I love this newest entry in a delightful series, and I love how they all look together. I hope that the visuals help entice readers to delve into the wonderful world that Tasha Alexander creates—they are truly such enjoyable novels.