"I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men." - Marlene Dietrich
"Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
You can’t see me (which is probably good because I’m still in my jammies), but I’m grinning madly, as happy as my Labrador when he gets to go swimming. In fact, if I had a tail, it’d be swinging wildly. This is the week I’ve been waiting for, when my cover -- the very real proof that Killer Image will be introduced to the world -- will be revealed.
As a writer, you labor over a book, revision after revision, stepping back on occasion (constantly?) to
consider whether the product on the page conforms to the vision in your head. Sometimes it hits the mark, and other times it’s more like me at a shooting range. When I read my own work and my internal critic finally shuts up, I know I’m there. But that’s the prose. What about the lovely picture on the front used to help
readers inundated with choice make a decision about what to buy? That’s a whole other beast.
So when Henery Press told me my cover was ready (and gave me a sneak peek), it struck me that for Allison -- and for me -- the cover has special meaning. It will be the face of Killer Image, the bit of the book visible to the outside world. Fitting for Allison Campbell.
See, Allison is an image consultant. She works and lives on the wealthy, image-conscious Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia, and is paid to help people improve their looks, speech and overall persona in a sharply competitive (and sometimes dangerous) world. But she's not a Main Line native - and neither is her friend and office manager, Christopher Vaughn (Vaughn), a thirty-year-old black man from the unforgiving streets of West Philly. Allison and Vaughn are good at what they do. Despite haunting secrets from their respective pasts.
From an author's standpoint, these protagonists are rich with potential. Talk about a cover -- Allison gets the importance of what’s on the outside. While I lack fashion sense (I much prefer flip-flops to pumps, Patagonia to designer labels), Allison is one Jimmy Choo shy of a fashion diva. But her gift goes so much deeper than that. In fact, the original title of the book was Underneath It All. Because what Allison understands, and what makes her so successful, is that for image to really resonate, there needs to be something underneath. Flash, façade, gloss . . . not enough. That would be like a stunning necklace without a clasp -- nothing to hold it up. But because of a tragic past, and the fact that she never quite fits in on the Main Line, Allison has an outsider’s perspective. She's able to see underneath the mask. And she uses that ability to help each client create the best possible version of him or herself.
In other words, Allison Campbell is a master at reinvention.
Except when it comes to Maggie McBride. Maggie, the teenage Goth daughter of a White House hopeful, has no desire to be made over. Free-spirited. Oppositional. Spoiled. Fashion-challenged. And a self-proclaimed witch. Kind of a nightmare client -- and a tough kid to love. Maggie pushes every one of Allison's buttons, but Allison perseveres, and finally she’s able to see under even Maggie's tough shell. When Maggie is accused of a ritualistic murder, her story entwines with Allison's past until Allison gets her tough girl on and is driven to solve the crime. That's as much as I'll tell you here (don't want any spoilers), but the tension between surface and what's buried beneath permeates the book.
Which is why I think the cover for Killer Image is . . . killer. The creative team at Henery Press captured the essence of the novel -- a little fun and fashion flirting with psychological intrigue and a dark undercurrent of
menace. But there’s more than just a pretty face underneath that fabulous cover -- take the time to peek
beneath come this October when Killer Image is released.
And stay tuned for more Allison Campbell mysteries. The second in the series, Murderous Looks, is well underway. A reclusive Italian heiress from the Finger Lakes and a reality television star from Scranton disappear. Their only connection? Allison. Can’t wait to see that cover!
Thanks for visiting!
And don’t forget to check out the cover later today on Facebook.