Author Spotlight: Manda Collins

Hi friends! We’ve got Manda Collins visiting with us today, as you can see! She was supposed to be here last Thursday too, but got a bit overwhelmed with her blog tour(s)? so she decided to condense. Which worked out for us, right? Because Myke Cole was here! We’ve got a totally different perspective about romance from Manda, which is also fun. So without further ado… Manda’s post as an AAD author!

Cover Me!

One of the first aphorisms one learns as a child (and I’m not sure why) is that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. And as a grown up romance reader, I long ago realized that sometimes the books with the most deplorable or boring covers are the ones I most enjoy reading. Look at the original Fabio cover of Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm, for instance. There’s no way I could have known from looking at that prime bit of cheese that the tale inside would be one of my all time favorite romances.

When the time came to see my own cover for the first time, I have little shame in admitting that I teared up. In part because of the excitement of seeing my first book brought so starkly to life with real people in the key roles, but also with gratitude that it was so beautiful. And secure in the knowledge that I’d have no qualms about showing it to my romance-skeptic family and friends. What can I say? I blush easily. And I’m darn tired of defending the genre from the Fabio stigma. It’s been twenty years since he was on a cover, people! Move on!

One of the things I adore about my cover is that the hero’s face, Lucas I suppose I should call him, isn’t visible on the cover. I know that some people deplore the headless romance cover, but I have a huge affection for them. Mostly because I prefer not to have my own imagining of the hero and heroine interrupted with the faces of the cover models. And as I get older the cover models seem to get younger and younger.

So, with those thoughts in mind, here are a few of my favorite cover trends of the past few years, in no particular order:

1) Gowns! – Largely due to the advent of digital publishing, which requires there to be texture to set one cover apart from another, it is difficult to browse a row of historical romances without there being at least one cover showing the heroine in a billowing gown. I particularly love the richness of the colors in gown covers. Like this one of Cecilia Grant’s A Lady Awakened. The tone on tone, coupled with the nuances of the velvet gown make this one pop for me. Especially with the contrast of the heroine’s red hair against the backdrop.

2) Breaking the Fourth Wall – This is a term from theatre, that describes what happens when an actor speaks and looks directly at the audience. The first cover I can remember noticing that did this was Julia Quinn’s The Lost Duke of Wyndham which shows the heroine looking out at the reader. And lots of covers since, including my own, have followed the trend.

3) In the Middle of Things – These covers are those, like Eloisa James’ fairy tale novel covers, that seem to capture the heroine in the middle of things. The first fairy tale story, A Kiss at Midnight is an especially good example of this, as it shows the heroine  running down the stairs, her glass slipper left behind. Another author whose covers follow this pattern are Kate Noble’s which often show the heroine racing off somewhere.

So, now I’ve told you what some of my favorite cover trends are, tell me some of yours! Do you prefer your hero and heroine with heads or without? Or perhaps you have some ideas about contemporary romance covers! Do tell! Inquiring minds want to know! One commenter will win a copy of How to Dance with a Duke.

0 thoughts on “Author Spotlight: Manda Collins

  1. [email protected]

    I like the faceless men covers so I can imagine my own hero too:) I don’t about cover trends but I DO have favorite cover artists! For instance I adore Dan Dos Santos’ work and his Mercy Thompson covers are my favorites. A few romance covers that stand out in my mind as beautiful are the ones for Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series (the angel wings are gorgeous!), the cute animated ones for Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Wild About You series, and Sabrina Jeffries covers for the Hellions of Halstead Hall series.

    Reply
    1. Manda Collins

      Wow, Bella! You are so with it to know the cover artists names! I blush to admit that I only recently realized that they even were named on books. But now I do try to pay attention to who does the ones I really like. I agree with you on the Guild Hunter covers. Nalini Singh definitely has lots of credit with the cover gods! Same goes for Vicki Lewis Thompson’s and Sabrina Jeffries’. I’ll have to look up the Mercy Thompson covers.

      So glad to know I’m not the only one who likes the headless heroes! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Liz

    I never really thought about it until I read the post, but some of my favorite covers are the ones where it’s just the man and he’s got all his bits (head included). 🙂 I adore Gena Showalter’s Darkest series covers, the gorgeous men with the tattoos mentioned in the stories, and they all look so appropriately intense like their characters. And J.R. Ward’s are similiar in intensity but mostly close-ups of the faces of the men, and sometimes women, in the stories. Jet Mykles draws her own cover images – she’d need to, her characters are otherworldly in appearance! – but she does it well and they’re unique and she’s a real artist.

    Great post, Manda. Don’t enter me in the contest, I had the pleasure of reading the novel already.

    Reply
    1. Manda Collins

      Cool! Thanks for the read, Liz:)

      I’ve gotta say I love those hunky man covers too. Honestly, if it’s done well, and the cover leans more toward classy and less toward cheese, I’ll go with most any of them. But I do remember being wowed by the JR Ward covers–especially when she first came on the scene. Nobody else had covers like that. At least nobody I was reading! I’ll have to look up the Jet Mykles covers! Sounds fascinating and cool!

      Reply
  3. Mary Preston

    If the heads don’t at least try to match the author’s description – then off with their heads.

    I have to say I’m a huge lover of the luscious, billowing gowns. The colors are always so rich & divine.

    Reply
    1. Manda Collins

      Mary, I know what you mean. I think that’s an author’s greatest fear: to have a cover with models who look nothing like their characters. And I’m not talking not looking like they envisioned their characters–it would be pretty much impossible to match the characters as they are in the author’s head–but with the wrong hair color or age or body type.

      I think cover designers are so fond of gowns because they really do offer an opportunity to show luxurious fabrics and rich, sumptuous colors. Plus, with ebooks, you need some texture to make the cover pop on the screen. Another one of my faves was for a YA called The Luxe. Gorgeous rich gown cover.

      Reply
    1. Manda Collins

      Ooh, I love a hero in evening dress, Maureen! Unfortunately–or fortunately depending on your POV–cover artists seem determined to show heroes without their shirts, or at least with their shirts unfastened;) I can understand wanting to see the faces.

      Reply
  4. Diane Sallans

    The most important aspect of a cover to me is to indicate the style of the book & to have the cover characters depicted as the story describes them – especially hair color. The background to the characters also helps to set the mood & it’s nice if it depicts some aspect of the story – such as a grand house or a castle or a lovely garden.

    Reply
    1. Manda Collins

      Excellent point, Diane! You definitely want a historical cover to look historical, or a contemporary cover to look contemporary. And totally agree about getting the hair color or physical details right. Can really be annoying when they don’t match up.

      Reply
  5. Mary Kirkland

    I hate to say this but it isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last…I loathe the headless covers. I want to see a face, eyes, lips, hair ect…to get my fantasies running wild. Whenever I see headless men or women on the cover it puts me off because all I can think of is The Headless Horseman, or some horror movie like Saw in which the poor hero just had his head lopped off right before the photographer snapped the picture and they decided to use it anyway. *or maybe I have too much imagination where this is concerned* lol

    I like looking into eyes, I want to see faces and like when the they are looking right out at us.

    Reply
    1. Manda Collins

      Hey, it’s all right by me, Mary! I can see why the headless covers bug some folks. I think because I started reading romance in the age of Fabio that I pretty early on dis-associated what the hero “actually” looked like (ie. in my mind’s eye) from what he looked like on the cover. Someone needs to do an academic study one of these days about why different people respond to different covers. At any rate, I’m glad that there are covers for all our varied tastes. And unless they start using Fabio again, I’m cool with heads on my covers for the most part. It’s not my preference, but I can live with it! Especially so long as I keep winning the cover jackpot!

      Reply
  6. Rini

    Big fabric fan, so I totally love the texture/gown thing :). Biggest dislike – covers that only show a man’s chest. So OK, I can appreciate all the hard work that went into the nice abs, but if the cover can only have just one part of the anatomy, I’d rather see the face/head. Or even just the eyes – now there’s the window to the character’s soul … !

    Reply
    1. Manda Collins

      Yeah, Rini, I can appreciate your argument. Also, I have a hard time believing that ALL of those historical heroes waxed their chests;) Yay for another gown lover! They’re just so pretty!

      Reply
  7. Jane

    Congrats on your debut release, Manda. I do prefer the heroine and hero to have heads on the covers. I’ve always been a fan of the stepback covers.

    Reply
    1. Manda Collins

      Ooh, Jane–stepbacks are so great! I always think of them as a sort of bonus cover that gives you more of the story. Though my favorite for giggles is the stepback for Lisa Kleypas’s The Devil in Winter which had the hero and heroine partially clothed, in a clinch, in the snow! I somehow cannot imagine even St. Vincent would be so indifferent to his creature comforts as to give up a nice warm bed for a snow drift!

      Reply
  8. Cathy P

    Hi Manda! I like the covers where the faces are shown (same coloring as listed inside the book), and where it shows the woman in a beautiful gown with a beautiful background.

    Reply
  9. ClaudiaGC

    I like a nice cover but I have to admit I don’t usually buy a book just because of the cover. Some of my absolute keepers have really ugly covers. 🙂 I like the headless cover quite well because so I always have my own picture of the hero and heroine in my head and not something “ready-made”. But I have to admit I really like the examples you give in your post and I absolutely love the cover of your book. It’s so classy.
    And I’m not saying no to a nice man-chest cover either. 😉

    Reply
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  11. aliquis

    Hi Manda!

    Sorry I’m late in commenting. I love the more artistic ones. Not necessarily the landscapes and women’s fic type ones. But it doesn’t have to be the clinch cover either. Definitely covers catch my attention though, especially the colors. I think a trend I like has been the nearly monochromatic cover. Especially when it’s a pretty shade.

    Reply

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