Well, there it is–the front cover for my upcoming romance novella, February Romance, which I expect to be out actually in the month of February (2017)! I created this cover myself, and, without expecting a whole lot going in, I’m actually pretty pleased with how it ended up turning out. I have no background in graphic design and wouldn’t go so far as to call myself an artist, but I did have a specific look I wanted for February Romance, and I think this captures it pretty well.
I haven’t talked much about February Romance, and that’s in part because the project is so new. It’s gone from conception to almost-finished in a remarkably short period of time, and I must say it’s been kind of a roller coaster ride. After writing so much horror, science fiction and historical fiction, to be dipping a toe into the somewhat perilous waters of literary romance is definitely something I didn’t expect to be doing. Nevertheless, it’s happening!
February Romance is the story of three people, only loosely connected to one another, who each fall into an unusual and unexpected love affair during the month of February. On the streets of Manhattan, Paul, a widowed former software designer, randomly encounters a woman he had an affair with 26 years before. At a ski resort in Austria, Leila, a snowboard champion competing at a winter sports tournament, falls for Piero, a wild, Ferrari-driving, hard-partying Italian snowboard jock with a devil-may-care attitude. And across the globe in Sapporo, Japan, a young British expatriate, Trevor, tries to satisfy a long-dormant romantic urge and winds up involved with the beautiful but troubled Wataru, a Japanese college student. The stories of these simultaneous affairs are inter-cut amongst each other, and the action takes place only in the month of February.
In addition to a version on Kindle Direct, there will also be a paperback version. Below is the back cover for the paperback.
In terms of both its story and its visual presentation, I intended February Romance to be a bit transgressive, in terms of genre conventions, from the get-go. I’ve largely avoided writing romance because I always thought that what defines the genre was always unduly restrictive, much more so than other genres like science fiction. They may sell, but I have no interest in writing historical bodice-rippers or steamy stuff with muscular airbrushed beefcakes–be they cowboys or Regency-era rogues–on covers that look remarkably similar. And definitely no sparkly vampires, werewolves or 50 Shades of Gray knock-offs. The love affairs in February Romance are flawed and uneven, just like love affairs in real life. They don’t conform to tropes and they don’t always have happy endings. Yet there’s also a strain of escapist fun in February Romance. It’s real, but it’s not too real. I hope it strikes a chord in some readers who may wish for something a little different than the cookie-cutter romances there seem to be so many of.
One of the three main plots in February Romance can be considered a “sequel,” of sorts, to one of the stories that appeared in my recent story collection Hotel Himalaya: Three Travel Romances. You need not have read that book to follow this one.
The cover works, I think, because I wanted to capture a sense of the gloom and exhausting nature of the deep winter. I wanted snow, but not pretty snow–instead the kind of grimy, dirty urban snow that you see in New York and that makes everyone’s lives hectic and miserable. I wanted a kind of winter darkness, even during the day, that suggests sadness. Yet in the bright colors, especially the glowing lights and the title, there’s room for hope as well. In the stories themselves, this juxtaposition of winter gloom with the hope of love is what drives the characters to indulge their romantic instincts. The photo I used for the cover was taken in New York and donated into the public domain by the photographer, James Barker. It’s really a spectacular picture.
I’m very excited about February Romance and I hope you will be too! Tentative release date is (of course) February 14, Valentine’s Day. I’ll post more about the book as it gets closer to completion. Look for it on Amazon in February!