Monday, 20 May 2013


Once again, I’m forced to submerge my blog and ply the deep in an attempt to avoid collision with an incoming vessel. Why, it’s the USS Vanderkarr. She’s a long way from home, principally operating out of the Michiganian Sea.
All hands below decks. Scunge the lungeons, ye piratical swabs!
I am assured that’s how people talk aboard submerged vessels, whether those vessels be submarines or not. Whether they be, I should refrain from too much nautical gabbing. Overfishing leads to privateering talk.
“Where be we, Cap’n?”
“Arrr! If I were here on this chart, me hearties, I’d be deep in the Sea o’ the Subjunctive! Were we pirates worthy of the name, we’d be rich and fanciful to boot.”
In the depths, sonar tells me the USS Vanderkarr is picking up speed. She’s making all haste, heading back to port for the launch of a new vessel. Antithesis. Reaching for my naval codebook, I see this word is the opposite of something.
If that something be a person, that person be the opposite of another person. Arrr! Just roll with the nautical clichés, shipmates. All submariners be pirates in their hearts.
What is this saucy launch of which I speak? Why, it be a book launch. More of that anon. In the meantime, I must warn of the optical dangers of a visual medium. Genteel readers, prepare to face the cosh. I am plugging a book. Some of you may have suspected this – do not trouble to label yourselves genteel.
In plugging Antithesis by drawing attention to the release of the book’s cover, I feel it incumbent upon myself to use the phrase I feel it incumbent upon myself. One seldom has the chance to deploy the statement – even more rarely, twice in one sentence.
I feel it incumbent upon myself to warn of the dangers of judging a book by its cover. Yes, I’m plugging Kacey’s work here. Still, there are perilous rocks out there and it’s a crime to steer for them.
Here be sea-monsters.
I’ve never once enjoyed a book because it had a great cover. Never. Just to confirm. NEVER. The notion of the greatness of a cover, or the lack of greatness, is irrelevant. In days of a Jurassic nature, I did my reading out of public libraries stacked with hardbacks. Abaft the lungeons, shrimpmates.
Often, as the library had a captive audience, those timber editions carried no illustrations. You considered yourself lucky to be able to name the author and book title. The covers were functional – just this side of the legal definition.
That regime didn’t spoil my enjoyment of storytelling.
I’ve read first-rate second-handers reduced to a lack of cover by the travails of time and banditry. The sorry physical state of a book will only spoil your reading of it if the last page is missing. And maybe, not even then.
Never judge a book by its cover. Always judge a book by its cover. Sometimes judge a book by its cover. The hell with all that. Read the bloody thing. Judge for yourself, based on the fiction.
Arrr. The point also applies to non-fiction, and you may lay to that, shipmates.
When I first sighted the USS Vanderkarr on the horizon she was awash with doubt, listing to port, tempest-wracked, barnacle-bedraggled, and close to mutiny. It took but a hearty ahoy to set her aright, and she soon made for port and a refit.
Sails were trimmed true, barnacles scoured, and a revitalised crew roamed the decks with sea-legs running under more tattoos than we need mention.
Book covers. I think of the works in my collection. Very few are without a cover. Many have ghastly covers. The illustrations are not great. Worse, certain illustrations show the wrong character performing the relevant action. As though artist and text never met. Colour-scheme isn’t one. The title glares in an appalling font. A combination of things mentioned above adds to the dreariness.
Photographed film tie-ins should, by law, carry the statement NOW A MINOR MOVIE.
It’s true that I possess appallingly-written books in covers so glossy and slick with wonder your eyes should slide right off them to better tomes. Look at this wonderful cover! Buy the book! The splendiferous artwork is but a half-step from eradicating malaria!
And the Nobel Prize for Book Covers goes to…
There isn’t one this year. Or any year.
What to say of novels with rear-cover blurb revealing plot-twists…
I daren’t name any of them, for fear of giving away plot-twists. If you read the blurb, that’s your affair. There’s one thriller in my collection which reveals the MAIN part of the crime puzzle in the rear blurb. A secret bit of plotting. Just handed out there. On the back. Oh dear. That’s the trouble with physical books. They sometimes have appalling BACK covers too.
(Fuckers! They gave away the plot! Fuckers! No, I daren’t name names.)
You’d rather read a great book in a bad cover than a bad book in a great one. I say that knowing I’m introducing Kacey’s book cover sight unseen and book unread. She’s having difficulty shipping cargo to my island fortress.
(For those fresh to this saga, to clarify, on reading an early extract of Antithesis, I was the evil swine who contacted Kacey and told her to publish or I’d chop her head off.)
Why plug her work having not seen the cover? My opinion of the cover is irrelevant. I won’t like Kacey’s book any better or hate it any more viciously when going by the cover. In truth, I’m not required to like or hate Kacey’s work at all. Maybe I’ll carry an impression of the setting or character with me as I read, based on the cover. If I read. For I am not required to read Kacey’s work at all.
Does this make for a strange non-plug? Judge for yourself. Enough of what’s not required. This is what I will do. I will treat Kacey as a colleague and not as a rival.
As a colleague, I can’t very well serve anyone’s interest by gushing over her prose. You see a book, read the blurb, and have a think. Someone plugs her tome. Readers decide for themselves. Price is a factor. Genre. Hell, sometimes the weather comes into play. Moodiness.
Plugging Kacey’s work here means announcing the release of the cover image to a semi-suspecting world. This is a big thing for a writer sailing to her first publication. It’s also no big thing. When I publish, I press a button.
The first time I published, I celebrated by eating an overly-luxurious cream bun. Then it was back to editing the next book. Kacey mumbled that her first book’s release should be a massive event, but. She’s been left numbed by it.
I know what she means. The fun comes in writing the story. Set sail for Maracaibo! If we fail to reach that destination, we’ll end up somewhere. Pressing a button never quite matches the unfurling of sails.
This is an emergency blog post. There flies the flare, a-signalling and signifying. Regular blogging was interrupted by the arrival of Kacey’s cover. There’s no real rival in arrival, and I don’t mind nodding in the direction of another author’s material.
In writing this I looked ahead and back, in that time travel mode of mine, to the blog post I wrote for the actual publication of Antithesis. There, in the post scheduled for mid-late July 2013, I don’t celebrate the launch of a book – but I do applaud the arrival of a writer. That’s as things should be, shipmates.
Do judge Kacey’s work on the basis of her book’s cover – if that’s how you operate. And don’t judge her work, or anyone’s writing, on the basis of the cover – if that’s how you operate. Am I dreading the arrival of this symbol? No, I fear no unfurled piratical flag. Authors are privateers, all. And, though it be a cutthroat business, few necks are truly severed. For we are all in the same boat.
Glaring at my shelves, I wonder at the worst cover in my collection. A matter of taste? No. I nominate the crime book with its appalling blunder on the REAR cover. As for the best cover? That must be a matter of taste.
Alas, shipmates, when I went to open that keg of pure sweet water, it seems the rats chewed in. There be little left to see. I selected a wonderful book, full of character and incident – non-fiction, it be – and I attempted to render a scan of the gorgeous cover.
The intricate detail melted in the scanning process. So. The worst cover in my collection is on the rear of a book with a decent front cover. And the best cover on my shelves must remain a mystery. The foil on the front foiled the scanner. One of the top reads on my shelves has a decidedly plain cover, with reason.
But I see we’re fast-approaching the fifth bell o’ the second dogwatch, and I must away to thwart the mutineers.
My name is Gavyn.
Liam doesn’t care that I only have one arm. He actually likes my red hair and freckles. I might forgive him for kidnapping me.
My name is Gavyn.
I lost my Liam. I’ve lost them all. And now it’s my job to make sure they don’t show up again.
My name is Gavyn.
I had a life with Liam, but he couldn’t give me what I need. Then I killed his father. I don’t expect he’ll forgive me for that.
My name is Gavyn.
Kacey Vanderkarr is a young adult author. She dabbles in fantasy, romance, and sci-fi, complete with faeries, alternate realities, and the occasional plasma gun. She’s known to be annoyingly optimistic and listen to music at the highest decibel.
When she’s not writing she works as a sonographer, and coaches Winterguard – dance combined with flag-waving. Kacey lives in Michigan with her husband, son, crazy cats, and two bearded dragons. Visit www.kaceyvanderkarr.com for more information.

Twitter: @kacimari


  1. Who knew I looked good in red? Thanks for the non-plug, my friend!

  2. After killing an army of gremlins, I found it easier to use the red version. There was nothing wrong with the regular photo, but Blogger prefers smaller files. :)


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