CODEX BORN has a cover! This is 99% final, but I’ve been given permission to share. Click on the pic for a larger view, if you like.
There are many things I like about this image. I’m happy that the artist, Gene Mollica, found an Indian model for Lena Greenwood. I love seeing her teamed up with Smudge.[1. Cover Trivia: Smudge has now appeared on more of my U.S. book covers than any other character.] And I think this fits well with the look of the first book.
I’m particularly pleased that when I tried Lena’s pose, I was able to do it without pain. I love the expression on her face, and the fact that she’s actually got some muscle on her. And while the outfit she’s wearing is rather revealing, it’s also completely in character. Lena might be dressed sexy, but she’s not posing as a sexual object. There’s no unnecessary thrusting of hips or chest. She’s dressed the way she likes, and she’s stepping out of her oak to kick someone’s ass.
Now, those of you who’ve read Libriomancer [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] have probably noticed where this version of Lena doesn’t match the text. When we first meet Lena in chapter one, she’s described thusly:
Lena Greenwood was the least imposing heroine you’d ever see. She was several inches shorter than me, heavyset but graceful as a dancer. I didn’t know her actual age, but she appeared to be in her early twenties, and was about as intimidating as a stuffed bear. A damned sexy bear, but not someone you’d expect to go toe-to-toe with your average monster.
Which raises the question: Why has Lena been “thinwashed,” for lack of a better word?
When my editor was talking to the artist, she asked me to provide description for Lena, which I did. Like I said, Gene Mollica does photo shoots with a model in his studio, then manipulates the best pictures into the cover art. He looked for models who matched my description of Lena.
This was the largest Indian model he could find.[2. While I'm certain there are larger models out there, I'm not sure what other constraints Gene was working with in terms of location, budget, and time. I do know there was a rush to get this cover done for the catalog.]
I have the portfolio shots of the rest, and this truly was the best option for Lena.
This is just one piece of the problem. If we had found a heavier model, I wonder if marketing would have nixed it because they didn’t think people would buy a book with a fat woman on the cover. It’s a moot point, since Gene couldn’t even find a fat model … is that because the modelling profession in particular is hostile to anyone larger than a size six? Or is it because we’ve mocked and shamed people for being fat until they wouldn’t even consider trying to model as a career?
What it comes down to is that our disdain and disgust for anyone overweight, particularly women, permeates our whole culture, and it pisses me off. You don’t want to know how young my daughter was the first time she came to us worrying about her weight. I do think we’re finally starting to figure out that maybe it’s not okay to mock people for their race or gender or sexual orientation, but fat people are still fair game, both in real life and on every movie and sitcom you see.
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH US???
The Lena Greenwood on the CODEX BORN cover is a sexy, attractive woman. [3. As much or more because of her confidence and humor and strength than because of her body or the amount of skin she's showing.] But you know what? The Lena Greenwood in my book is damned sexy and attractive too. And while I’m happy with this cover, and I think Gene did a nice job, I’m also disappointed that we don’t get to see that Lena Greenwood.
Because she’s awesome.