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Friday, May 16, 2008

Versions of a Vision

Recently, I came across the rainy, blue cover for Geliebter Mörder, an upcoming translation, from Blanvalet Paperbacks, a German imprint of Random House. I'm always intrigued by overseas artwork, the various depictions used to sell a work in foreign markets. I liked this one, but I couldn't say to which of my books this cover belonged. The title, which translates to "Beloved Murderer" didn't help me a whole lot either.

Still curious days later, I tried Google and came up with the answer. This cover is for The Deadliest Denial (the red covered U.S. version). Also posted are the white Estonian version and the deep blue, babydoll and handgun (hmmm...) Polish concept. All visions from the same story, each of them surprising in its own way.

In the same way, a dozen or a hundred or a thousand authors could each tackle the same plotline (in the case of The Deadliest Denial, it's the story of a police officer's wife awakened by a knock at the door, not the news the her beloved husband has been killed, as she fears and half-expects, but the shocking revelation that's he's been arrested for conspiring to kill her). No two versions would ever be the same.

So when you're working on a fabulous, original (or so you think!) idea and hear of another, similar book or movie, don't fret too much about it. Your version will be as different, or more different, than these cover visions are from one another. Your unique voice, your world view, can't be "stolen." It's as individual as the DNA encoded in your genes.

6 comments:

TessG said...

Thanks, Colleen, I agree with you, voice will be what distinguishes a writer!! Thanks for the reminder.

Great covers!

Christie Craig said...

Colleen,

I enjoyed seeing your different covers. Thanks for posting them.

And about voice making a story different, I totally agree. When teaching a non-fiction class, I once gave the class an assignment. It was the beginning paragraph of an essay with a couple of blanks where they could fill in their own words. Then I told them to go and finish the essay. You would be amazed at the different stories that came out of the same beginning, and basically the same premise. Amazingly, one of those students even sold her essay.

Thanks for the post.

CC

Suzan Harden said...

Thanks, Colleen. I needed to hear this. For the last couple of years, I've been working on an outline for a story concerning the theft of a (I despise George Lucas right now) crystal skull.

*sigh* At least my hero wasn't an archeology professor.

Colleen Thompson said...

Thanks for stopping by, Tess, Christie, and Suzan!

When I was most of the way through what would become my first published novel, a historical written around the Great Peshtigo Fire in 1871 Wisconsin (talk about your niche settings!) another book came out with the same background and was published by one of the same houses I was targeting. Heartbroken, I decided to read the book with the thought that I'd scrap mine if the stories were too similar. I needn't have worried. The books were so different, I went ahead and finished - and the same publisher bought mine, putting it out two years after the other book. And when I spoke to the other author about my initial horror in the discovery, she was kind enough to give my story a blurb.

Joni Rodgers said...

This is still my favorite of your foreign covers:
http://boxingoctopus.blogspot.com/2007/05/colleen-ist-eine-berliner.html

Colleen Thompson said...

Thanks, Joni. That's my favorite foreign cover, too.