Hunted Dreams Book Cover: Or, My Semiotic Analysis of My Literary Sonogram

Cover art for the fabulously spooky Hunted Dreams has arrived! It’s always a proud and exciting moment for us authors, kinda like seeing a sonogram for the first time of one’s bio-bun baking gently in the ol’ oven-womb! Well, except for less creepy verbiage. But ANYway, it’s a harbinger of things to come and the first bit authors can make publicly available about our prenatal literary babies.

Here, my beloveds, in all its glory, is the official cover of Hunted Dreams.

Snazzy, right? As my editor pointed out, after rejecting several prior drafts, this one is marketable and purty. Being a not-so-enthusiastic supporter of the manipulative power of advertising, I admit I cringe at words like “marketable,” but I have to face it: Elle Hill™ and her little works are all commodities, baby. Step right up and buy a little piece of me.

Truly, I find this cover very visually compelling. I love the colors, the ratio of light to dark, the fonts, the inclusion of the katana and hellfire as symbols of the main character’s awesome strength. Heck, I even giggle at how largely and prominently my name looms on the cover, exactly as if I were a bigwig author. Hee hee!

However, truth be known, the cover is also a letdown in a few ways. First of all, I’m hopeful the woman on the front looks like she’s sleeping and not dead; even so, the idea of using and sexifying* feminine helplessness to sell books -- MY book! -- makes me seriously twitchy.

Additionally, I’m disappointed that, in spite of emphasizing time and again that the shero is fat, I got a thin woman. The editor knows I’m cranky about that, which is why she kept mentioning how much more marketable this cover is. Ya know, I have to admit it kind of hurts to hear one’s body type, preferences, and artistic ideals aren’t desirable symbols in the public sphere.

This might be one of those times when I love the marketplace a teensy bit less.

On the same note of representational absence, my hero, a biracial (half Black, half White) man is nowhere in sight. In my cover instructions, I wrote something to the effect of “my hero is half Black/half White, but if that won’t work, a Black man will be fine.” He’s so fine, he’s absent.

So in short, my baby looks nothing like what I thought it would. I love the artistry, the colors and patterns of the cover. I love its sense of immediacy and drama. But alas, the cover’s representation of humanity silently contradicts several of the themes in this book about finding and embracing one’s genetic heritage and learning to integrate one’s internal dualities.

I sorta-comfort myself with envisioning future readers who find the cover sexy, read the book, and are shocked that the shero is a fat, competent, tough, and compassionate woman who turns the damsel-in-distress trope on its head. Oh, and that biracial love exists.

That’s my baby.

* This is absolutely a word. Or, well, maybe not, but it totally should be. 


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