Sometimes a publisher asks for your input on a cover, and sometimes they do not. It’s nice when they do, but they are not obligated. So when my editor said they were thinking of putting Roz on the cover and asked if I had any visual descriptions beyond what’s in the book, I was…very excited.
I suspect he may have been expecting a paragraph or two. Instead he got the following:
Rosalind Featherstone Character Sketch
Hi Ed! It’s possible I have spent way too much time on this Roz style document…please forgive me. And let me say right from the start that I recognize that this is more of a wishlist, just in case the design folk do decide they want to put Roz’s mug on the cover.
I think of Rosalind Featherstone as basically the strange lovechild of proto-punk goddess Patti Smith and DC Comics character John Constantine. I’m not sure this will help the artist and/or designer in any way, but more than anything Roz is about attitude and the combination of these two people is exactly the vibe.
Here are some early Patti Smith images (taken by Robert Mapplethorpe) that I used for reference:
Here are some images of actor Matt Ryan doing various cool Constantine poses that I also used. For reference.
So, you know, just take those two people, mush them into one, and you’ve got the Gutter Mage! Easy!
Naturally, creating an attitude requires some thought to wardrobe. Roz’s “style” focuses primarily on pragmatism. Despite the conveniences of magical sigils, this is still technically a pre-industrial society. As such, she would likely be wearing a loose-fitting linen undertunic, wool trousers, and of course sturdy leather boots for breaking people’s metatarsal bones. Her gloves, when she wears them, would have to be leather, or they would immediately catch on fire every time she gets irritated, which is often. But she wears them a lot, so they shouldn’t be too bulky or thick.
She also has a special long coat treated with a flame-retardant substance so that she doesn’t become naked every time she loses control of her flames. Ideally, the coat is long, reaching at least to the knees. In my mind, I imagine something like Robin’s coat from Fire Emblem Awakening. Except with a collar instead of a hood. Please don’t put her in a hood. She hates hoods because in this book mages all wear hoods and she generally hates mages.
And there is also Roz’s unintentional trademark hair, which is short because she keeps accidentally burning chunks of it off. It should be very uneven, ideally with some of the tips still looking singed. I like this length, but it’s too neat:
This one is probably too long in places, but I like the asymmetry:
Thanks, Ed! I hope this was helpful, and I look forward to seeing what the design team comes up with!