As I write each novel in The Lords of Satyr series, I always have an idea of what the hero looks like in my head. And pinned on my wall. Since my pin-up guys are cut from magazines, they’re usually actors, musicians, models–someone I consider lustworthy. He has to have the right hair, eyes, and muscles.
But most importantly, my pin-up guy(s) must capture the mood of my hero. It’s the mood that inspires me and reminds me who my guy is, inside and out, lest I forget over the months it takes me to write a novel.
For The Lords of Satyr series, which is historical paranormal erotic romance, I found at least some of my inspiration in a single statue I saw on a trip to Europe a few years ago. I was writing about half-satyr half-human males. Imagine how thrilled I was when I stumbled on this life-size statue of a satyr male in the Louvre! I took so many photos of it, I’m pretty sure I worried the hovering guard. I explained to her that I was writing romances about satyr brothers in Tuscany and showed her bookmarks. She was intrigued—or maybe that was bafflement I read on her face due to the language barrier. Either way, she was happy to have me autograph the bookmark, which she pocketed. But she still kept an eye on me.
The face of this statue doesn’t match what I envisioned for any of my satyr guys—Nicholas, Raine, Lyon, or Dominic. I’d find those faces elsewhere. But talk about mood! This alpha guy has what I remember Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City calling great “throw down” when it comes to his women. And the statue as a whole has a voluptuous, sensuous mood that’s perfect for what I wanted.
Like many authors, I don’t see my covers until long after my novels are finished, so I can’t base my heroes on the cover models. Rather, the marketing department and my editor choose the covers based on their vision of the heroes I’ve written. And I have a feeling readers put their own spin on every hero they read as well. I know I do.
In my November e-newsletter, I asked members to rank my four book covers in order of preference. Each cover depicts a single image—the satyr hero. Results are still coming in, but so far, one cover has been ranked last most often. It’s Raine, the most naked of them. Interesting. Still, three readers who ranked this cover last said it was the one that initially drew them to the series. They found the other books afterward. If you’d like to weigh in, visit www.elizabethamber.com/ to join the newsletter and vote (for a chance to win a book). I plan to pass the tally on to my editor.
How important are visual images of heroes to you? If the guy on the cover doesn’t fit your image of the hero, does it dampen your interest in the book itself? Is there one truly lustworthy romance cover that has stayed in your head for months or years? Which is more important to you–the specific look of the hero on the cover or the mood of the cover? Do you even want to see the hero on the cover?
I hope you’ll leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of my newest release, Lyon, The Lords of Satyr. I’ll randomly select a winner from among the commenters a week from today.