Take this with a grain of salt, but let me tell you a story about covers. In the science fiction and fantasy genre, the publishers seem to be quite generous with extra pages to tell the story behind the story – perhaps it’s a factor of being a geek. We want to see how the sausage is made. So, in many SFF novels, the author gets a few pages to talk about process, or memories about the publishing world, or other things.
In one of these books, an author talked about the Golden Age of SFF magazines, and mentioned that not only did publishers find cover artists to illustrate stories, but sometimes they would commission a work from an artist, and find a writer to narrate the art.
I think a lot of us can relate – all of us here at Eight Ladies have used the collage method for deepening a story and finding more connections. I have tons of storage dedicated to image files that help me understand what I’m “seeing” in my story.
But this is one step further – writing to a picture.
There’s an interesting anecdote on Wikipedia (here) about the pulp fiction artist, Margaret Brundage. Her covers were so popular among readers of Weird Tales that apparently Seabury Quinn would write scenes that would suit her style of illustration. There must have been some sort of creative chemistry at work; I find it impossible to believe it was only a strategy to make sure his short story became the cover story of the month. At any rate, many of Quinn’s short stories made the cover and were illustrated by Brundage. (Here are some of Quinn’s cover story covers.)
The romance genre has also had a long and illustrious (hee-hee) history with art. I remember reading my mother’s old romance comics when I was staying at Grandma’s – it really was my first introduction to romance. The images used to be so ubiquitous that they showed up in mainstream art, as well. You can’t google “Roy Lichtenstein” without seeing the influence of romance art on his work.
The cross-fertilization between the arts fascinates me. Romance and fashion are a natural pairing; many writers use playlists, and many musicians also work in the visual arts. In general, I think we here tend to think of the story first, and then the art, but what would happen if we reversed the process? I think it could be an interesting exercise in creativity.