Capturing a Character’s Image

Elaine Forrestal with a range of cover roughs and artwork for Someone Like Me

It’s hard to describe the feeling when you first see the cover image of your new book. You live with your own images of the characters running around in your head for so long. While you are writing, editing, re-writing, you are dreaming, imagining, seeing them in your mind’s eye as they face the dangers and carry out the tasks required for their story to be told. Then suddenly there it is – someone else’s version of the person you have got to know so intimately.

Early on in my writing career, while I was still in the ‘short stories for very young children’ phase, I made a couple of attempts at illustrating my stories. But I quickly realised that, for me, the words created the pictures. My bundle of colouring pens and aquarelles could only produce a stiff imitation of the lively, active and well rounded characters who already existed in my head. So when I saw, and fell ion love with the first cover images for my new book, Goldfields Girl, there was a mixture of pride and amazement. Someone else had seen the same dominant features in Clara as I had. There she was looking larger than life, standing in the wide Coolgardie street in 1894. Strands of hair had escaped her ‘do’ and blown across her face as she stares out at the reader with a mixture of inner strength and determination, and just a dash of sadness around her full lips. It is easy to see that she is a complex character, larger than life, but vulnerable deep down.

I can’t actually show you the roughs just yet. Marketing departments, distributors, book shops and other interested parties have still to be consulted. But stay tuned. It won’t be long now.

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