Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Big Wake-Up: Cover Five

Whoa, it's the 60s again! And a creepy incarnation of the decade, too.

Here's the next competitor in the mock cover contest for my forthcoming novel, The Big Wake-Up from Bleak House Books.

Opinions in the post comments are welcome, as well as in the Flickr photo set I've put together for all the designs.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Big Wake-Up: Cover Four

Here's another cover in the series of posts I've been doing as a sort of fantasy book jacket designer for my forthcoming novel, The Big Wake-Up from Bleak House Books.

Opinions in the post comments are welcome, as well as in the Flickr photo set I've put together for all the designs.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

You've Heard Him Talk, Now See Him Act

In an earlier post, I provided a short recording of Raymond Chandler discussing the role of private eyes in fiction during an interview with Ian Flemming.

Now, thanks to a tip from fellow mystery writer John Billheimer, I'm pleased to present stills from Chandler's one and only movie appearance.

Puzzled? Confused? Unaware that Chandler appeared in movies?

Well, he did. He had a cameo role in Double Indemnity, a film some consider to be in the top 100 of American Movies and others place in the top 10 (tied for third, even).

Chandler's most important contribution to the movie, of course, was co-writing the screenplay with Billy Wilder, but writer/director Wilder evidently gave Chandler a chance to appear in the film, even though Chandler wrote a memo to studio big-wigs demanding that:
Mr. Wilder was at no time to swish under Mr. Chandler's nose or point in his direction the thin, leather-handled Malacca cane which Mr. Wilder was in the habit of waving around while they worked. Mr. Wilder was not to give Mr. Chandler orders of an arbitrary or personal nature such as 'Ray, will you open that window?' or 'Ray, will you shut that door, please?'
and Wilder said of Chandler:
He couldn't structure a picture. He had enough trouble with books. But his dialogue. I put up with a lot of crap because of that. And after a couple of weeks with him and that foul pipe smoke, I managed to cough up a few good lines myself. We kept him on during the shooting, to discuss any dialogue changes.
The scene where Chandler appears comes relatively early in the move, just after Fred MacMurray, as insurance salesmen Walter Neff, leaves the office of Edward G. Robinson playing the character of claims adjuster Barton Keyes. Keyes has just told Neff that "his little man" tells him whenever a claim is crooked and Neff shines him on and then lights his (cheap) cigar with a kitchen match and walks out of the office.

As he exits the office, he goes down a corridor, and there is Chandler waiting outside reading a magazine and smoking a cigarette.

Here's a sequence of stills showing Chandler and MacMurray:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Big Wake-up: Cover Three

I've been doing a series of posts as a sort of fantasy book jacket designer for my forthcoming novel, The Big Wake-Up. Bleak House Books will do the real heavy lifting on the design of the jacket, but I've been imagining what it might look like if I leveraged one of the pictures I've taken to illustrate the interior.

As you might gather from looking at the photos, the plot of the book has a little to do with cemeteries. My first attempt used a photo from La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The second fantasy cover leveraged a picture of a "putto" with its elbow resting on a skull, taken in Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris.

Today I'm using a picture I took at the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California:

Mountain View is the setting for several scenes in the book, so that's a plus for using the photo, as is the fact that I've had one or two requests to use it for book covers in the past. The most recent one was for a book of poetry (!), but after getting the green light from me, the publisher ended up going with a non-cemetery-themed picture.

Any opinions out there on any of the three contenders? Ann Hillesland from my critique group--who has read the book in draft--wrote to say that she liked the first cover better because it fits the theme suggested by the title better. (She also said that she didn't want to comment publicly due to modesty, but I've outed her now!)

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Monday, January 05, 2009

The Big Wake-Up: Cover Two

In an earlier post, I noodled a bit on the design of the book jacket for my forthcoming novel, The Big Wake-Up.

It's due to be published by Bleak House Books in the fall, and while I really won't be directly involved in the design of the jacket, I've been having a bit of fun imagining what it might look like if it was based on one of the cemetery photographs I've taken for the interior of the book.

My last cut at the jacket used a photograph from the grave of Rufina Cambaceres. I thought that was appropriate since there's a connection to the story line, which has to do with Argentina, but my wife was concerned that there wasn't enough "menance" in the photo, and Cameron Hughes wrote to say he thought something "more gothic would be better ... a dramatic noir shot of cemetery."

While I'm not sure I really addressed their issues, here for your consideration is my second try:


This is a bit of statuary from Montparnasse Cemetery in Paris, where Susan Sontag, among many other famous writers and artists, is buried. What do you think? Which is better? And if you don't like either, which photo from the Flickr set linked above would be a superior starting point?

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