The cover for my new one (THE CONVICT'S SWORD) is up on my web site ( You can get an early glimpse. Amazon doesn't have it yet.

This particular cover caused me some grief. When the first draft arrived for my approval, it had hardly any color and, worse, it looked like a romance novel to me. While it wasn't the bodice-ripper type, being more the ladylike, cozy sort of thing, I took exception. My editor reminded me that it would appeal to women.

Yes, we know women buy more books than men and also read a lot more. But I have many male fans, and I don't write cozy mysteries. In fact all my previous covers have looked rather martial, with characters swinging swords and once, in heavy armor), aiming arrows, or striking with heavy poles. Yes, this happens in the respective novels. There's a lot of fighting going on in my books, and THE CONVICT'S SWORD is no exception. So why the change?

Well, it's supposed to sell more books and open a new market. The cover attracts buyers. People gauge style and content by what's on the cover.

I suppose, women would find some of the things they like: marriage, children, the role of women, and yes, even romance, but my protagonist is a man with a man's outlook on life.

And here's the main problem: I really don't want my books typecast as belonging to the mass of cozy historicals that are consumed like popcorn by their fans. For one thing, my books are too violent, and for another they are too realistic. Maintaining some realism about the historical period is important to me. That culture and those times were a heady mix of refined aesthetic beauty and gruesome violence and misery.

The final version of the cover is a bit more colorful (I do believe in color), but you'll just have to take my word for it that there are some rather ugly goings-on inside.

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Comment by I. J. Parker on February 1, 2009 at 9:48pm
Thanks much, John. I'm relieved you like it. Yes, HELL SCREEN is my favorite, too.
Comment by John Dishon on February 1, 2009 at 11:10am
No, I think the cover matches the style of the other novels. You don't want a character wielding a sword on the cover every time or it would get boring. Plus, the silhouette in the background hints at the violence involved.

Oh, and Damn! The Hell Screen cover is awesome!

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