Spark: Cover Inspiration

September 2, 2013

Find an image to represent your novel. Sounds easy enough, right? But I had no clue what I wanted on the cover of Spark. None. And it was driving me nuts.

I finished the first draft of Spark in June 2012, and I had seriously considered the images I wanted on the cover for nearly a year with no luck. That’s very unusual for me. When I wrote Fall Into You, I knew red Doc Martens were somehow going to be part of the cover. They just had to be. So when nothing came to me for this book over all those months, and then I was “suddenly” asked what I wanted, I did my best to complete the paperwork the art department sent me. My responses ended up being a rambling mess, which showed just how clueless I was.

I think part of it was intimidation, because what I chose to represent Spark would affect everything else in my North Star trilogy. So I wasn’t just visualizing one cover; I had to consider three or at least find something that could be carried over to pull the entire trilogy together. The only thing I truly knew was what color I wanted each of the covers to be.

The wonderful designer, Anne Cain and I both agreed a simple, conceptual cover was going to work best. As I was writing to her about more thematic ideas from the book, I finally had a brainstorm, right there as I was composing my email. I’m so glad I went with my gut and just started typing away.

The golden spiral.

So what’s that? It’s based on the golden ratio of 1:1.618…, phi (φ), and it’s related to the Fibonacci sequence. As much as I love math, I’m sure I’ll mess this up, so watch this short video hosted by Hank Green who explains the Fibonacci sequence and how it relates to the golden ratio and golden spiral.

This number relationship is used to create a golden rectangle, which the lovely golden spiral fits right inside. Everything is related. This spiral occurs in nature in pinecones, galaxy formations, flowers, veggies, pineapples, some shells, ears, fingerprints, and more. Artists and architects use it, and there are even bridge arches designed based on the curve.

The golden spiral is also related to the golden triangle, which easily becomes a pentagram or star. Yeah, I nearly fell over when I read about that considering my trilogy is called North Star. It’s crazy. Of course, once you start looking for something, you find it everywhere you go. Still, I think the mathematics of all of this is truly fascinating, especially how it relates to art, nature, and what people consider pleasing to the eye. It’s pretty amazing no matter how you slice it.

But why did I want to use the golden spiral as inspiration for my book cover? Fire or sparks would’ve seemed more appropriate based on the title, I suppose. Yet that didn’t work for Anne or me because it was too literal. The golden spiral was a great jumping off point, so I finally had that image in my head that I’d been searching for. The lovely thing is that Anne is going to use portions of the golden spiral for all three covers, so I have that element spanning all three books. I found the connection I had been seeking.

One of the reasons the image works so well for me in Spark is that the main characters’ lives have spiraled around each other for years. Hugo Thorson and Kevin Magnus met as teens, fell in love, and grew together. Then college and adulthood separated them, but they continued to grow and were still influenced by each other despite no longer being together. In their thirties they meet again at a Minnesota lake and both find that they’re still just as attracted to each other. The question they need to decide is if they can possibly join their lives and grow together. It’s also a lovely tie-in that Hugo and Kevin spend time digging in the sand at the lake with Kevin’s kids.

As I continued to edit the rest of the books in my trilogy, I realized the theme of spirals or portions of spirals, like arches, kept popping up again and again. This was after Anne had already worked on the cover for Spark, so it almost felt like fate had a hand in that moment of inspiration while composing that email. Beyond that, North Star is truly about Hugo and Kevin growing, and when you see how quickly those Fibonacci numerals add up, I can’t help but give a little chuckle. Granted, growth isn’t quite that dramatic for Hugo and Kevin, but the math is still inspirational to me.

I’m beyond grateful for Anne Cain’s talent. I think she did an amazing job.

And in case you hadn’t noticed, the Dreamspinner Press logo looks an awful lot like a golden spiral. Doesn’t it?

So, what do you think makes a good cover for a book? Are those criteria different for a romance novel than another genre? I’d love to hear from you, and I’ll enter you in a drawing for one of three free eBook copies of Spark.

And if you’re a math nerd like me, where else have you seen the golden spiral?

~Posy Roberts

P.S. If you want to watch more videos on the golden spiral, check out this mind blowing one by Vihart that shows how the golden spiral shows up in plant life.

9 Responses to “Spark: Cover Inspiration”

  1. Trix says:

    I love how Dreamspinner is slowly but surely developing a whole math subgenre (that whole “Fibonacci hopscotch” sequence in Edmond Manning’s KING MAI, and now the NORTH STAR trilogy). Nice! I like an unusual cover image like this one, since cover model shots seem to make things more easy to pigeonhole (and as for headless torso covers, NEVER!)…

  2. JJ says:

    I was just commenting in another post about the beautiful cover. It’s so unique and I really enjoyed reading about the background about it. You really opened my eyes about the swirls in nature, e.g., galaxies etc.

  3. Posy Roberts says:

    I guess model shots on a cover sell better, but I would love for someone who has never touched M/M romance to pick up my book and give it a try too. I really enjoy more conceptual covers myself, and the cover for Fusion, the next book, is wonderful too.

  4. Posy Roberts says:

    Have you checked out the last video in that post? She actually has a series of 3 videos, and it’s sort of amazing how often this occurs. I find it absolutely fascinating.

  5. JJ says:

    I checked out the first video, which was so fascinating about the Fibonacci series which I’ve never heard of. I never noticed that pine cones, articokes etc had spirals. I just thought they were circular.

    Will had to check out the other two videos later.

  6. JJ says:

    Oh, sorry about my grammar mistakes in my comments. Also, I just wanted to add some more comments about the cover, which has to be one of the best covers that I’ve ever seen. Not only is the design superb, the colors, the textures and the cover composition are just so perfect.

  7. Posy Roberts says:

    Anne Cain did an amazing job, didn’t she? I’m thrilled!

  8. Juliana says:

    This is terrible but I know the golden ratio because there was an episode of Criminal Minds where a serial killer bases his murders on the numbers! Yes, I love crime shows!
    Covers are so important! I know I have passed over good books because the covers suck! I like covers that are pleasing to the eye, they don’t have to have people on them or hot bods, but I want to see the cover and come back to it in my mind. It has to gel with the content. Something symbolic works!

  9. Posy Roberts says:

    I’m just so happy I was able to work with someone who got what I wanted, even when I was a total boob about getting my ideas across. Anne’s a great designer and artist.

Leave a Reply