An author guest blog
by Jay Lewis Taylor
If the stars are in alignment, if the wind is in the right direction, if CreateSpace and the Gods of Delivery do their job – there will be paperback editions of my books for sale at Queer Company 2.
Dance of Stone and The Peacock’s Eye arrived in the e-world with covers in Manifold Press’s early style. I have had the rare pleasure of being able to see them dressed in new clothes (not, I hope, in borrowed plumes like Aesop’s jackdaw) and, indeed, of being able to select some of the clothes myself.
I have had my eye on the new illustration for Dance of Stone ever since I first mooted putting the book into paperback. This figure is the first illustration in a Bible in the Austrian National Library, and shows God in his capacity as Architect (or Builder, or Geometer, or Craftsman) of the Universe. I loved the colours and the brilliance (such a pity we couldn’t use real gold leaf, eh?) and was amused by the – dare I say it? – implied relationship between God and my Hugh, the mason. The mediaeval cathedrals were built as a mirror of time and space, and in that space Hugh could easily be accused of setting himself very high indeed.
For a while it looked as if the picture just wouldn’t fit into Manifold’s new cover format. Then Julie Bozza had the brilliant idea of flipping the picture round, at which point everything worked. True, it makes God appear left-handed, but if he is also omnipotent He will hardly mind that; besides, He gets to be right-handed on the back cover. I must say that one of the charms of the new covers is the way a detail of the front is shown on the back; Across Your Dreams has always had the new design front cover, but the appearance of the gleaming curve of river on the back makes me look at the whole picture again).
The second title being reissued is The Peacock’s Eye. I had hoped that one at least of the Renaissance painters might have painted a really good peacock, or a peacock-feather fan as an accessory; but no such luck. However, one of the glories of the Elizabethan age was the extent to which men and women could dress like peacocks, if not in colour, in brilliant arrogance of display, so finding an image was not too difficult after all.
The chosen cover image is a portrait of Sir Walter Ralegh, who isn’t in The Peacock’s Eye, and is barely mentioned. Sometimes there is no room even for national heroes to shoulder themselves into a book! He looks, as Lou Faulkner said to me in an e-mail, both menaced and menacing; most appropriately. Ralegh epitomises the Elizabethan world’s glory and vulnerability, from the search for the City of Gold to the executioner’s block in a few short years. Also, I was glad this was one of the portraits that showed him with an ear-ring – for reasons which will become apparent to new readers!
I cannot end this post without offering thanks to Julie Bozza for her endless patience in converting the files for all three books to CreateSpace format, and also to Shell Peart for the cover designs as a whole.
Paperback buy links:
Across Your Dreams
The Peacock’s Eye
Dance of Stone
P.S. The books have just arrived, and they look magnificent!