Five years ago, when I set out to write a murder mystery for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) called WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'?, a decades-old image of pop singer Tom Jones flashed through my mind.
For the uninitiated, Sir Tom Jones often wore wildly flamboyant outfits on his television variety show "This is Tom Jones," which debuted in 1969. I was about 11 years old, and I thought his puffy shirts and sparkly tuxedo jackets make him look rather adorable.
I never thought of Tom Jones as less manly or foppish for dressing like a peacock. In my mind, it made him even cuter--that's about as deep as my thoughts about men went at that age--cute versus not cute.
In the opening paragraphs of WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'?, when the viewpoint character Ellie Overton wants to feel better about life and open to life's possibilities, she does this:
...She’d close her eyes lightly until a tall, trim man wearing a white puffy shirt and a pair of skintight bell bottoms appeared behind her eyelids.
If that image didn’t make her heart thaw, she’d add more details. A swath of dark chest hair with a chunky gold cross nestling on top. A flashy, oversized belt buckle.
Usually it took the whole package—the curly locks, the ruffled shirt, the chest hair, the gold necklace, the glitzy belt, the platform shoes, and the swinging pelvis snugged into form-fitting tuxedo pants—until the ice began slipping away from her heart." -- WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'?, Chapter 1, "Chills and Fever"
When we began working on the cover art for WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'?, I was clinging to this vision of a Tom Jones in his prime, the same image that made viewpoint character Ellie Overton weak-kneed, but we just couldn't find that perfect picture. So cover design commenced without it.
Then a wonderful new friend Ellen Sterling, the moderator of TomJonesInternational.com fan website, suggested I ask Tom Jones tribute artist Steve McCoy to share a photo for the cover.
Steve was happy to furnish some of his own photos of himself all decked out for a performance, including an exceptional photo taken in Vegas. He was wearing *gasp* a puffy shirt and sequined bolero jacket! Be still my heart!
The photo was golden--beyond my wildest imaginings for material to use for the cover of my new novel about solving the murder of a Tom Jones tribute artist.
Using Steve's photo, designer Greg Simanson then created a new cover treatment for the book.
With some sage counsel from Booktrope's new VP of Content Management, Greg rearranged the lettering so as not to obscure Steve's trim torso (and signature belt buckle) and . . . voilà!
Not only did Steve McCoy inspire one of the characters in the novel, his photo also inspired a very cool book jacket, don't you think?
Definitely two thumbs up!
I've never been to Vegas, but I certainly feel as though I've hit the jackpot for having been introduced to Steve McCoy and having the chance to use his photo for the cover of WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'?. Aren't the psychedelic colors that Greg used totally happening, too?
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