Works of Art

by wjw on March 13, 2013

After travel, the holidays, and a period in which my eyes refused to contemplate a display screen, I’ve finally returned to my part-time job as a publisher, and am working on the final ebook of my sea series, To Glory Arise, originally The Privateer.

Behold a couple pieces of art, conveniently in public domain, that might be suitable as cover art. Let me know which you like best.

Returning to my first published novel has been just a little bit humbling.  It is a first novel, after all, and as a first novel is flawed almost by definition.

But there was one character that raised my eyebrows.  A Catalan surgeon with an Irish name, and a taste for dueling and opium.  “That would be Stephen Maturin,” I hear you say.  Except that it isn’t.

I’m reasonably certain I was unfamiliar with the works of Patrick O’Brian when I created Surgeon O’Reilly, and so the resemblance to Maturin is coincidence.  (And the personalities of the two are quite distinct: O’Reilly is a remote, chilling isolate, with none of Stephen’s charm or love of music.)

But anyway, I’m thinking the resemblances are far too marked, and so O’Reilly’s name and biography may undergo some alteration.  I don’t want to have to keep encountering people who ask, “Why did you put Stephen Maturin in your novel?”  Cuz I didn’t, not intentionally anyway.

So I think he may end up becoming a Galician named Castro.  Which is a Galician name, I believe.  No one will take the character as a comment on Fidel, anyway.

James R. Strickland March 13, 2013 at 5:49 am

It’s a pity my father isn’t still with us. He could tell you unequivocally which one is more historically accurate to the period of the novel, and which one has its mechanics the most correct as far as sailing ship technology. Alas, the age of sail was his passion, not mine. My knowledge on the subject is limited to “yep, those ships have sails and they seem to be made of wood.”

Given that, I vote for the first one. Assuming there are any exchanges of naval ordinance in the novel (and somehow, I don’t see you writing it as a romance or a navel-gazing contemplation of death and struggle), and assuming that such an exchange is likely either the pivotal event of the story or causes the story, I’d say the first one. Two wooden warships, broadside on, pounding the shit out of each other.

Lektu March 13, 2013 at 11:41 am

First picture is more suggestive, IMO.

And, hey, you could instead have a Basque surgeon named Aguirre…

DorjePismo March 13, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Does the privateer sail a frigate or a brig? That said, glory seems more likely to arise on the high seas than in port.

mearsk March 13, 2013 at 2:09 pm

First picture definitely fits better, I’d say.

Sean Craven March 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm

I’d go for the top one — better draftsmanship, color, and composition. Much more energetic.

TJIC March 13, 2013 at 3:38 pm

The first one – the colors are clearer, less muddy, more interesting.

Brian Renninger March 13, 2013 at 7:14 pm

The first picture is clearer and more action oriented. However, the second recalls a lot of the O’Brian Geoff Hunt) covers which depict more of the everyday shiplife than just the action sequence. So, are you going for an O’Brian audience or a Forrester audience? I think your book would satisfy both audiences but who do you think will buy more?

As to the Surgeon, it may be a pain to explain but it also is a good discussion point related to how authors working in the same area can follow similar paths. Stephen in O’Brian is often described as “remote, chilling isolate” even reptillian I believe until one gets to know him. So even that is not so different from your character. But, don’t change a thing. Like people’s comments on The Rift let the historical dogs lie.

–Brian R.

wjw March 13, 2013 at 9:31 pm

I think O’Reilly’s name is going to get changed simply because I don’t want to have to give the same explanation over and over again.

I was leaning toward the second picture until I saw what they both looked like when shrunk to a couple inches across, which of course is how they will look in an online catalog. When postage-stamp sized, the first picture stands out a lot more.

Not Todd March 14, 2013 at 6:53 am

I’ve been quietly amused at how often Catalan Independence has come up in the news in the last year.

Clyde March 14, 2013 at 7:54 am

Well, the American ship in the first picture has two masts. The one in the second picture has three. Which fits your story?
And the surgeon? Why not name him Bill Beatty? (An Irishman, William Beatty, was the surgeon on HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.)

John F. MacMichael March 15, 2013 at 6:35 am

I hope this means that your eyes are better. Are you feeling that the operation was worth it now?

wjw March 18, 2013 at 3:10 am

My eyes are much better, thank you. They get tired easily and sometimes are a little sore, and I’m still a little more sensitive to light than usual.

On the other hand, my vision is really, really good.

wjw March 18, 2013 at 3:17 am

I don’t necessarily care if the artwork is an exact representation of the ships involved. I care whether it gets across the idea of the book (ships, fighting, action) in a clear manner. I think it’ll look pretty good when I’m done with it.

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