Okay. Yes. I know…shameless, shameless self-promotion!
But I’ve wanted to talk about this cover since I first laid eyes on it…or it had laid eyes on me….
As I’d previously mentioned, I’d been (and still am) messing around with short stories, and had come across this one and decided to published it as its own stand-alone story. So, I turned to Lon Kirschner, who’d done a couple of my other covers. As always, Lon turned out a fantastic cover! It even reminded me of The Grievers, the cover he’d done for Marc Schuster, back in 2012 (and also involving clowns, by the way).
So, of course I want to talk about it!
When I first opened the file and looked at it, the very first thing I saw was the clown’s face…and I thought, ewwww…how frigging creepy! But…why is it starting at me through a slit?…a narrow opening…a…waaait a minuuute—
It hit me, just like that—the clown was staring at me from the blade of a knife!
I bust out laughing.
How frigging perfect!
I was walking around the house with my tablet looking at this thing and laughing my ass off. I just couldn’t take my eyes off it! What a perfect cover for my short-short story! The creepy clown face, the purple from its little clown-doll outfit, the kitchen knife, the script of the title—including the red “S”—all on a black background, which to me symbolizes the night/unknown! It was such a clean, subtle, no-nonsense creepy (have I mentioned this?!) cover!
I mean, our clown…the silly little dresser-top doll…the subtle way it’s peering out at us from the shiny knife blade is just like how I believe these little bastards are peering out at us from our dresser tops! Oh-so slyly…are they…or are they just staring ahead with their lifeless, beady little eyes?
Of course they’re staring at us!
This is what Lon had to say about creating my “Clowns” cover—which, by the way, was the first time he’d ever created a cover for a short story—I think you’ll really get a kick out of this:
“It did creep me out. I don’t really mind real clowns (although they are a little odd) but clown dolls are what I really find creepy. I also find some other types of dolls creepy but that might be just me. When we were kids we had a set of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls that my Aunt sent from her travels in Europe. They sat on the old radiator that was in the bedroom I shared with my sister when we were very young. I would wake up some times in the middle of the night and I would see them staring at me. Like your story. I still think they moved.
“The other issue with this cover was I knew you had high expectations for this and I felt a little under pressure to produce something that hinted at the story but didn’t give it all away.
“I wanted it very, very simple but have that disturbing feeling. I went back and forth with the alternate “S” in ‘Clowns.’ At first I thought it was a bit cliché, but then I thought it was a good way to bring in that murderous element without being overly gruesome and it did offset that typical circus lettering.
“My own clown issues and creating a successful piece all combined to create something a little difficult to work on, but in reality, once I got going it all fell into place rather quickly.
“I always start with some sort of rough idea. I knew I didn’t want to see the whole clown face and I knew I needed a knife, I just wasn’t exactly sure how they would all meld together.
“This is how I have always worked. Some people sketch it all out exactly but that never worked for me. I do make little sketches on Post-it notes to sort some things out, but that is usually as far as I go. I find the fun in moving things around and making my adjustments on the fly. I think I moved the image of the knife over at one point about a sixteenth of an inch. Then I was satisfied!”
I love this line: “I still think they moved“!
I also like how Lon didn’t want to “give it all away,” which I could see might be a little difficult to do in a quick short short story of less than 800 (713) words! But, he did it, I’m proud of him and his result, and I am still beside myself over the cover!
So…I hope you’ll excuse me for analyzing one of my own, but I’ve been wanting to talk about it since I got it. With my next Kirschner Cover Art post, I’ll go back to talking about other author covers….
But…for now…sleep with one eye open!
Do you know where your knives are?
Lon Kirschner may be contacted at:
Book Cover Site: http://www.lonkirschner.com/
- Kirschner Cover Art: In Pinelight, by Thomas Rayfiel (fpdorchak.wordpress.com)
- Kirschner Cover Art: Grace, by Howard Owen (fpdorchak.wordpress.com)
- Cover Artist Lon Kirschner Interview (fpdorchak.wordpress.com)