Hey Heyer! An Interview About Cover Art, and a Giveaway from Sourcebooks

Book CoverMany of you are big fans of the Sourcebooks reprints of Georgette Heyer’s backlist, especially because the quality of the books themselves is stellar. Not only are they printed on some luscious paper, but the covers are gorgeous. I know a few folks who have written me to say that since discovering the reprints through Smart Bitches, they’ve bought several copies as gifts for friends and family. Heyer romances: the gift that keeps on giving!

This week marks the 107th anniversary of her birth (16 August), and to celebrate, we’re hosting a giveaway of rather epic proportions. Details are at the end of the interview.

What interview?

This interview! I was so curious about the design mastermind who is responsible for the cover art that makes the Heyer set so beautiful, and asked Sourcebooks if she’d be willing to do an interview with me. Meet Dawn Pope!

Dawn has been at Sourcebooks for 4 years now, and she’s the Assistant Design Manager. I had a bunch of questions for her, because I wanted to know how these book covers happened.

Book CoverSo many of the covers feature artwork highlighting women, particularly elegant women. It makes the Heyer reprints from Sourcebooks look stylish and unique – and definitely eye catching. I am so curious about the process that goes into creating the covers.

Dawn: Georgette Heyer is known for her heroines; the characters are enduring. We try to find images that represent these women. The cover process on our Heyer romances is ever evolving. I do have to say that this is a collaborative effort between my publisher, Dominique Raccah, and myself. Heyer is her passion and she knows these books inside and out. She knows the characters and the mood of each story. We work very closely on the image research. I start the search bringing in image selections for each title, we review the images, there are ones that work the first time around then there are ones that are a bit more of a challenge. 

Book CoverWe have just recently implemented another change in our Heyer covers, wanting take them in a Marie Antoinette direction. We are now starting to use a brighter accent color on the title bar. This is giving the covers a fresh more, contemporary feel, and when paired with the classic paintings, it makes a great package. When working on closing final covers for Cousin Kate, The Corinthian, and The Grand Sophy, is when we first started to rethink our direction. These three covers were changed midseason, to what we think are much stronger, and more representative covers. We are always thinking and rethinking these covers. We want to make sure we have the best cover for each title.

Book CoverYou will see the newer color palettes starting with Arabella, which I have to say, is gorgeous! We also just went back and redid the covers for The Nonesuch, The Talisman Ring, and Cotillion, these will be seen at reprint with much stronger colors and images for a better package.

  Where do you find the art, and how do you search for it? 

Dawn: I have two fine art stock houses that I work very closely with on the image research for the Heyer titles: Fine Art Photographic Library, and The Bridgeman Art Library. They are both amazing houses to work with and have been fantastic in the creation of these covers, getting me images, clearing licenses and permissions, to even helping in research.

Luckily, most of Heyer romances are set in the British Regency (1811-1820), so the time period is very specific. This narrows my search down quite a bit right from the start. Before I begin my search, when the books are first launched, I am given character and story descriptions, I usually take those and have a brief meeting with my publisher to see what she wants to focus on and portray for each cover. I then take that to my searches. I focus on the main character, so if she has red hair, I like to find paintings with woman and red hair, [and] they have to age appropriate too. If your heroine is 15, you can’t have someone who is 25 on the cover! It is the little details that we focus on that I believe makes our covers so strong.

What types of images do you prefer? Do you look for images that match the story? 

Book CoverDawn: I prefer to find images with a singular woman on the cover, as we try to highlight the heroine of each story. Now there are some exceptions as in the cover of The Devil’s Cub, coming out in November 2009, where we highlight Vidal, the son of Léonie from These Old Shades (which may just be my favorite cover yet!), coming out in October 2009.

So we are still highlighting a main character, and if that happens to be a male, then we will usually feature a couple. We absolutely try to match the image to the story—that is a must. We use the cover to convey what you are going to be reading. We want you to experience the same emotions from the cover that you will win you read the story. If you see a cover, you will draw a conclusion as to what it is about, and then you read the book. If the story doesn’t match the cover, you could be disappointed. In a way, it would be misleading you, the reader.

I do the best I can to make sure I find the images that fit each story. A great example of this is when I was working to close the final cover of Cousin Kate, I took the cover in for final review, and we were still questioning the image; it just wasn’t working. We decided to see if we could find something better, and in doing the image research for this, came across the images for The Corinthian and The Grand Sophy. As soon as we saw them, we knew they were better. So we made the change and closed the covers. I think we have much stronger, more vibrant eye catching covers. It paid off, and it goes to show it is all about the image.

  Have you read the Heyers that you’re designing covers for? 

Dawn: Unfortunately, I have not read any of the Heyer romances, they are on my list. It is hard to choose which one to read first… Any suggestions?

When we launch a season of Heyer romances, we usually launch eight at a time, I have about 10-12 weeks before I have to have final covers approved for that season. That eight is in addition to other titles from that season. I just don’t have the time to read them all. And luckily I work very closely with someone who has read all of them, most of them more than once, so she gives me the summary of what scene we want to set for each title. I do promise that someday I will read them… I can’t wait, I know I love the covers!

Do any of these pieces of artwork hang in museums? Have you gone to visit? 

Book CoverDawn: A lot of the paintings I have used are from private collections, or estates. There are some that are in museums, but none that are in any of the major art museums. But a majority of the pieces I have used are from private collections that are represented by the art houses, like The Bridgeman Art Library and Fine Art Photographic Library, both based out of London. I unfortunately have not been to London, so I have not gotten to experience the finest museums. I had an introduction to Fine Art in College, through my Art History classes, but working on these covers has given me a new appreciation for fine art, and I want to get to see more in the museums than what I have. They have sparked an interest to learn more and enjoy more.

Which of the covers is your favorite?

Dawn: Oh, my favorite? How do I pick… While I think about it, I will give you my top 5: Black Sheep, Cousin Kate, The Corinthian, Arabella, and Beauvallet. But if I absolutely had to choose, it would be the new cover for These Old Shades. The image is one I had seen a while ago, and just haven’t had the cover to use it on. The girl, her expression, and the dress are stunning. The treatment on this cover will be different from the others. It will be just a touch more fancy, as we are using a rose colored metallic ink for the title bar. It is going to be stunning. And did I say I love the image! I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.

Thank you, Dawn, for the interview – I know you’re super busy so I appreciate your taking the time to answer my nebby questions.

And thanks to the most excellent Danielle and the folks at Sourcebooks, it’s giveaway time! Leave a comment and tell us your very favorite Heyer scene, or the piece of art you’d like to see on a Heyer cover, and you’re entered to win.

We have copies of their next Heyer release, The Grand Sophy to give away – 9 copies, in fact. Plus one grand prize winner will receive a copy of every Heyer book they’ve released this season – 10 in all – plus a Frango Mint Chocolate Trio sampler. Which books? Have a look:

Book CoverBook CoverBook CoverBook Cover

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What could be better than a stack of books and a box of chocolates? Not much.

Leave a comment and you’re entered to win. You have 24 hours – ready, set, chocolate and Heyer!


Update! I emailed Sourcebooks about the Arrow releases in the UK and Australia, and Dawn replied:

“Arrow is the UK home to Georgette Heyer, and our Sourcebooks editorial team works directly them when it comes to our re-issues of Heyer’s work each season. The Arrow editions of the Heyer Romances are the cleanest and best packaged of the Heyer reprints. We do look at their covers for art direction, and at first we were looking to find those images, but as we have worked our way through our list, we have started to look for more of our own art that we think represent the book and will speak to readers. We do have a copy of every Heyer from Arrow including the mysteries, here in house.  As for the mysteries, the only cover that we have kept the same image with the same title is on Behold Here’s Poison, and that was because it was a fantastic cover!!

Since that, we may use some of the same images, but they are different titles. For example, as the commenter pointed out, our Why Shoot a Butler is actually the image from the arrow edition of Envious Casca. I think as readers see more mysteries coming from us and they see the newer romances, they will realize that we are moving in our own direction away from the Arrow editions, but they definitely have been a big inspiration and great partner to work with bringing Heyer to the US!”


Comments are Closed

  1. Karina says:

    Those covers look absolutely gorgeous.  I’ve always wanted to read Georgette Heyer’s books, but I’ve never got round to it.  Those book covers make me want to read them all.

  2. Shannon says:

    So many favourite scenes… and I can only choose one!
    I think my absolute favourite scene is Devils Cub where Mary has met up with Vidal’s father and describes the scene where a tired drunken Vidal, angry and frustrated, had decided to have his way with her – whereupon she shoots him in the shoulder. His father, Devil, idly asked what happened then and she replies “It was then my lord, that he began to realise that I was not trifling, and was in deadly earnest. ” A young man of perspicacity I see” remarks Devil dryly.

  3. Melinda says:

    Talk about synchronicity…recently, a good friend of mine lent me a stack of books and in the stack were two Georgette Heyers—Black Sheep and Cotillion. I had never read a Heyer before, but I read Black Sheep and fell in love! I am partway through Cotillion now and I am really enjoying it. To make matters even more coincidental, I was talking to this same friend on the phone today, thanking her for introducing me to Georgette Heyer! Neither of us can understand why the BBC hasn’t jumped at the chance to make a Pride And Prejudice-style miniseries from a Heyer book.

  4. Just in case anyone doesn’t know this, three of the ten titles released this season are mysteries rather than romances (Behold, Here’s Poison, The Unfinished Clue and Why Shoot a Butler?) and My Lord John is historical fiction, rather than historical romance and was unfinished at the time of her death. There’s a review of My Lord John here.

  5. 2paw says:

    Oh be still my beating heart!! Aren’t the new covers even more divine than the old new ones??!! When I am feeling poorly, I take to my bed and have a Georgette Heyer (Like) decline. If only I had a maid to bring me a tisane and a cool cloth for my head. Sadly, Lorelai Gilmore the Labrador pup just brings me bits of stick!! My friend truly adores GH and if I won Tattslotto I would buy her all the gorgeous new books!! (Waiting, waiting….. she.could be waiting sometime!!)

  6. Tina C. says:

    I’ve never read Heyer and I think I really need to, given all the love I’ve seen for her work here.  The artwork on all of the books is gorgeous, but the one for The Unfinished Clue is really great!

  7. k says:

    I love Georgette Heyer, it makes me very happy to know that she’s gaining a new audience of readers. I’d recommend Cotillion, These Old Shades and Sylvester to anyone new to her work.

    That said, it’s a shame this interview didn’t mention Arrow Books 2004-2006 repackaging of Georgette Heyer’s works in the UK & Australia which is the clear inspiration for the Sourcebooks reprint covers. A quick search of Amazon UK will show that some of the same artwork is used, albeit on different books, and they have identical typefaces. The artwork on the US Cotillion is simply the UK Cotillion reversed. The artwork on the US Why Shoot a Butler? was used on the UK Envious Casca. Some of the other artwork is not used in the UK but the overall style remains very, very similar and to my mind should be acknowledged by Sourcebooks when they do interviews about their design choices.

  8. Marianne McA says:

    I’ve many, many favourite scenes from Heyer, but I’ll choose a scene from ‘April Lady’ That book is a lot slighter than a lot of her others – more approaching farce. The heroine is young and beautiful but from a notoriously profligate family, the hero is older, a ‘catch’ and falls for her on sight. At the start of the book they’re married, but he’s beginning to suspect that she only married him for his money.
    Towards the end of the book, there’s a scene where she comes to tell him that a family heirloom is missing, and he is completely sure that she has sold it, and is betrayed and furious. So he’s just quite nasty to her in a dignified kind of way. And there’s a moment at the end of that scene that I love:

    ‘She went rather blindly towards the door. His voice checked her, even startled her a little. “No, come back! I didn’t mean it Nell! I didn’t mean it!”

    I just love it – he’s sure she’s stolen from him, and that she has lied about it, and yet he still can’t bear to make her cry.

    And then she leaves – to look for someone – and he thinks she’s left him, and races round London like an idiot looking for her. Sigh.

  9. MelissaG says:

    I can’t choose just one scene. It is easily a toss up between the scene on Devil’s Cub where Avon meets Mary at the in after she has runaway from Vidal again and in trying to learn exactly how she was abducted he asks her to tell him about “day-light kidnappings as practiced by the modern youth” or the scene in the Grand Sophy where Sophy pulls a gun on the money lender and he scoffs that the gun is not loaded and she informs him that :if he got up from behind his desk he would learn that the gun was loaded or at least he would be dead but he would know how it had happened”

    Both of these scenes still make me smile every time I think about them.

  10. Jennifer says:

    The covers are really lovely.  I admit to having the bad habit of choosing books by their covers . . .

  11. Pat L. says:

    Sorry to say I have not read any of Georgette’s books. Covers usually draw me and from what you said the cover and quality of these reprints are wonderful. Would love to try one.

  12. GrowlyCub says:

    It’s really hard to pick a favorite scene, there are just too many, but if you put a pistol to my head it’s when Rule says that he’s too old in reply to his sister who’s asked him why Horry, his younger wife, hasn’t fallen in love with him like every other female on the planet.

    Or when Avon tries to be noble at the end of ‘These Old Shades’ or Damerel at the end of ‘Venetia’. 

    And Marianne, I’m so glad to see that there’s somebody else out there who loves ‘April Lady’!

    I really wish the reprints weren’t trade-sized, because I absolutely refuse to buy those due to their weight and inconvenience.

  13. Ann Rose says:

    I have yet to have the pleasure of reading any of Heyer’s work, though I do like Mary Balogh, and if Heyer is anywhere near as exciting as Frangos, I’m sure I’m in for a big treat! Mmmm, Frangos. (Catchpa: century49—I’m certain to read 49 romance novels this century.)

  14. Jody says:

    Ahhh.  Heyer.  Always wonderful.  Never disappoints.  New covers.  Bliss.

    her42:  Too obvious.

  15. Cassie says:

    Georgette Heyer is what started me on the slippery (with lurve juice!) slope to romance. I remember my friend pushing a copy of Friday’s Child into my hands, saying “Read this, you’ll love it,” and me looking at her skeptically after viewing the opening line:

    “Do not, I beg of you, my lord, say more!” uttered Miss Milborne, in imploring accents, slightly averting her lovely countenance and clasping both hands at her bosom.

    She told me to read on and withing sentences I was hooked. To this day, I have two copies of Friday’s Child – one for reading, one for hooking and reeling in new Heyer fans. Georgette got me through a some very tough times. I remember finishing Venetia in the bathroom of a dingy hostel in Camden. It was four in the morning, I couldn’t sleep and I just wanted to go hoooome.

    As to my favourite scene, I find it hard to pick one. I love the scene in the Convenient Marriage where Horry offers herself to Rule in the place of her sister, with the salve, “I have the nose!”

    And in Frederica, when Frederica turns up at Alvistoke’s house because her dog has been harrassing the cows in Hyde Park, and he’s claimed as a ‘Baluchistan hound’.

    And of course when Mary shoots Vidal in Devil’s Cub, and that great final scene in The Unknown Ajax, where the wounded man plays drunk and the dandy plays wounded.

    Ah, they’re all so good : )

  16. Elizabeth Wadsworth says:

    Can’t pick just one scene, but the end of The Grand Sophy, with everyone converging on the Spanish lady’s house and hanging around her kitchen, sticks in my mind.  There’s baby ducks—baby ducks!—mass confusion bordering on farce, and everything is sorted out at the end.  Heyer was the master of this kind of escalating lunacy, and used iit in several of her novels.

    My mother is possibly the biggest Heyer fan on the planet, so this would make an awesome Christmas gift for her, if I win.

  17. Evaine says:

    Favorite scene?  There are so many!  I would have to say that every scene in “These Old Shades” and “The Devil’s Cub” would about do it for me.  *grin*  I’ve been reading Heyer since I was a sprout of about 12, I guess… that’s 40 years now.  I return to her books over and over again – and I still laugh out loud in delight.

    Those covers ARE stupendously gorgeous!

  18. Babs says:

    Wow, these are gorgeous covers…they make the books very very tempting! Especially to someone like me who has Heyer on the ‘to read’ list but hasn’t gotten there yet! Too many others on the list before her unfortunately.

    The cover for “The Unfinished Clue” has me itching to go order it…& risk spousal wrath since we swore to each other NO MORE NEW BOOKS until we read what we already have…

  19. Those covers are absolutely gorgeous. I am absolutely, totally and completely covetous. There’s no way I’m going to be able to resist them. I’m going to have to buy These Old Shades…and once I begin buying I’m going to have to own them all. *le sigh*

  20. Georgette Heyer is what started me on the slippery (with lurve juice!) slope to romance.

    Oh, me too. I should have been studying for my O-Levels and instead I was devouring Heyer at the rate of a book a week (and also Hemingway, which is an odd sort of mix). I haven’t revisited Hemingway, but I did reread a few Heyers this past year and it was rather like being a ghost with a critical eye. Quite honestly I find her mixed, which is to be expected in a decades-long career and sometimes you could tell Ms. Heyer was having a lousy year.

    These covers are gorgeous and altho you haven’t mentioned any artists’ names I believe they’re all late Victorian, so it’s a nostalgia art genre, the courtships of our grandparents when the world was young and gay. I can’t wait to see what Sourcebooks picks for The Masqueraders, the one with all the pervy cross-dressing. I remember at the tender age of 16 getting a funny sort of tingle from that one.

  21. Lostshadows says:

    Well, I haven’t won a contest since 4th grade, but finding a starting point in one, or ten, books is a lot less intimidating then find one in 34.

    I do have to wonder at the decision to release them as trade paperbacks. I’m not opposed to buying trades, but paying $14 for a 372pg. book seems rather overpriced. My mother’s copy of The Grand Sophy is only 416pg. and it’s a large print book.

  22. Favorite scene? How can I choose just one? These Old Shades is just one long favorite scene… I also love the ventre a terre love declaration scene in The Talisman Ring… and in Devil’ Cub when she tells Avon that he obviously doesn’t know his son very well… or Rupert’s wine buying in the same…

    Darn it, now I want to go read me some Heyer!

  23. Sue K says:

    I would love to be able to re-read GH again!!
    Please enter me in the giveaway.

  24. Laura (in PA) says:

    OMG, I’m so excited about this post. I love Georgette Heyer, and bought a few of her books when they were released in MMPB a few years ago. I saw these new covers a while ago at Borders, and fell in love with them. I actually picked up a copy of Why Shoot a Butler? from a front table at B&N, because I loved the cover, and hadn’t read any of Heyer’s mysteries before.

    My favorite Heyer romance is hard to choose, but I did love Frederica. The give-and-take between Frederica and Alverstoke was so fun; the dog scene makes me laugh (I have 3 dogs); and I love the character of Felix.

    This is one contest that makes me squee.  Pick me!

  25. Ann Finger says:

    I have “discovered” so many more authors since I’ve been following your blog….

    Thanks for entering me in the contest.

  26. Cassie says:

    I can’t wait to see what Sourcebooks picks for The Masqueraders, the one with all the pervy cross-dressing.

    The one Arrow Books picked was pretty good, I thought. You can see it here.

  27. Eileen says:

    In many of Penny Jordan’s Harlequin Presents books, her heroines are mentioned to be reading Georgette Heyer books.  I bought one of Heyer’s books a while back since she was mentioned in Jordan’s books so often.  I can’t recall the title of the one I bought.  The new covers look great.

  28. Tovah says:

    I’ve only read Devil’s Cub and enjoyed it. Of course the classic scene where she shots him sticks in the mind. These new covers are beautiful and I’d love to get a chance to read The Grand Sophy. My library doesn’t have it!

  29. Evelyn Nodal says:

    I am one BIG Georgette Heyer fan and have been collecting her books for years.  Most of my collection consists of older (not very good quality) paperbacks and I would love to replace with these gorgeous reprints.  Please, please count me in for the give-away!

    earlier59:  yep, by one year…born in 1958 🙂

  30. Sycorax says:

    Any scene from Friday’s Child involving Ferdy, Gil and George is a favourite. Heyer has written some absolutely classic – if completely mad – last scenes, vaguely reminiscent of Wilde or Shakespeare comedies. The Unknown Ajax, The Grand Sophy, Friday’s Child and Cotillion are perfect – and priceless – examples of this, each with a large cast, deception, intrigue, romance (in some cases multiple couples) and a hilariously satisfying routing of the villain. Oh Freddy, I love you.

  31. Kimberly Anne says:

    Count me in the camp of Never-Read-Heyer (oh, the shame!).  I keep meaning to, but my TBR pile is ginormous.  The Heyer love has me very curious, though, and free books could tip the scale (wink, wink)!

  32. Castiron says:

    I’ve only read a couple Heyers so far, but yep, the shooting scene from Devil’s Cub is definitely the one that sticks in my head.

  33. Jane O says:

    These are such gorgeous books. I hadn’t realized that they were reprinting the mysteries as well.

    I can remember my godmother commenting once that her idea of heaven was a sunny day at the beach with a new Georgette Heyer.

  34. Debbie says:

    I’ve been seeing these come into my library and I’ve been wanting to read them, just based on the cover. Yes, I do judge a book by its cover 🙂

  35. SB Sarah says:

    @K: thank you for pointing out the Arrow book covers (no pun intended). I hadn’t seen them before. I’ve forwarded your comment to Sourcebooks, and I’ll see what they say.

    (Also: I’m craving chocolate like mad, and have been since I formatted the entry. It’s way too early to crave chocolate.)

  36. Cassie says:

    It’s way too early to crave chocolate.

    It’s ten thirty in the evening in Australia. Perfect time for chocolate!

  37. Lynz says:

    Well, I’m relieved to know I’m not the only one who hasn’t read Heyer yet. I keep meaning to, but I’ve never gotten around to starting one… though reading these comments really makes me want to start one. Now. Especially April Lady – the scene Marianne described sounds like it packs my kind of emotional punch. *sigh*

    Also, I’m loving that cover art, especially the colours on The Corinthian. It was really interesting to read about Dawn’s process, especially purposely working on the juxtaposition of a contemporary style and classical artwork. I think it’s a great way to acknowledge Heyer’s status as a writer while making the books look interesting, instead of dated. Seriously, those covers are sexy. Rawr.

  38. Lynz says:

    It’s way too early to crave chocolate.

    What are you talking about? It’s NEVER too early to crave chocolate – there are plently of places in the world where it’s currently an acceptable time for chocolate. Just set your watch to one of those time zones. (And this is why my old clothes don’t fit anymore.)

  39. Evelyn says:

    In my hurry to post and qualify for the contest I forgot to mention:
    1)  Enjoyed your Dawn Pope interview.  I’m intrigued by the cover art process and her lovely renditions are a huge step above the norm. 
    2)  I have many favorite Heyer scenes but I recently re-read The Grand Sophy and just love the ending.  Madcap chaos and a happy ending for all (or at least those deserving one!) and a great last scene: ” ’ Charles!’ uttered Sophy, shocked, ‘You cannot love me!’  Mr. Rivenhall pulled the door to behind them, and in a very rough fashion jerked her into his arms, and kissed her, ‘I don’t:  I dislike you excessively!’ he said savagely.  Entranced by these lover-like words, Miss Stanton-Lacy returned his embrace with fervour, and meekly allowed herself to be led off to the stables.”  Pure Heyer and sigh-worthy even after almost 60 years!

  40. Mama Nice says:

    I…gasp!…am a Heyer virgin…I would love to be lavishly seduced into her world with these covers and chocolate.

    Is it wrong that I have this image in my mind of myself in a silky robe with flowing sleeves an lots of ruffles on a chaise lounge in a gazebo, chilled champagne resting on a table nearby, as I repose with a book in one hand and an occasional chocolate in the other?

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