Book Cover for “The Flames of Prague”

Final-Cover-for-WebI started my Flames of Prague cover over again and I finally have it looking the way I want. I may have to do some tweaking after I get the proof copy back–everything depends on how it actually looks in print–and I may alter the back cover blurb (more likely than not, really), but, for the most part, it’s done.

(Click the picture for a larger image. The original file is twice as big as the biggest image you can see, so some things that might seem blurry to you are crisper in the higher resolution file. Also, this image includes the bleed areas; that’s why things might look slightly off-center; they’re actually centered to the trim lines, not to the bleed lines.)

Me at Glad Tydings (by Beth) (Adjusted)A friend of mine took the picture of me this past weekend at an event. I though it was a really good picture of me. I just wish I could get an everyday picture that looked so good for use as my author picture on my non-medieval books. (Maybe I need a photographer who catches me when I’m not looking. I don’t pose well.)

I only lack 2,200 words reaching my minimum word count (70,000), and I expect to hit that today. I’m about 2/3rds of the way through my first round of edits, so I hope to actually bump the word count up to about 80,000 by the time I’m through. Then I afford to go back and cut some words where they’re not necessary.

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8 comments on “Book Cover for “The Flames of Prague”

  1. Ooooh, very intriguing! Also, is Jewess a word?

    • Keri Peardon says:

      Yes, it is. (MS Word and Firefox’s spell check both recognize it, actually.) It is an old word that you really don’t see used anymore–from a time when English actually cared about having gendered nouns. (“Spinster” is the only old Anglo-Saxon word that survives to modern times which denotes gender; Anglo-Saxon used to be full of gendered nouns, just like the romance languages. Later words and borrowed words sometimes had gender as well, but that gradually faded away.)

      It was used throughout the middle ages and up into Nazi Germany. One of the reasons why you don’t see it very often now is that it has antisemitic connotations. Jews never refer to female Jews as Jewesses; only Gentile men use the term, and only in a sexual context. The way it is used speaks of equal parts desire and revulsion. A Jewess is dangerous (either to your soul or your racial purity), but her forbiddenness is what makes her so attractive. She is powerful in that any children she has are automatically Jews (no matter who their father is), but she’s also the weakest of women because there was little protection that Jewish men could give to their women and laws prior to the 18th century rarely afforded Jews any sort of protection or justice. (In the sequel to The Flames of Prague, we see a Jewish girl who has been raped by a Christian man. He was fined for the act, but the fine was paid to the city because he broke the peace; she and her family got nothing. That was typical justice for Jews prior to the 18th century.)

      Jakub thinks of Alzbeta as a Jewess because he has a strong sexual attraction to her, even as he knows he can’t have her. (In the sequel we hear him actually call her a Jewess, although jokingly; he himself is a Jew at that point.)

      • I love talking to you – I learn so much. And then I tell my mother all about it while she’s trying to work and she shooes me out of room. So … win-win?

        I think it’s very cool that a term can have to such very different meanings, and yet they can co-exist in perfect harmony. Would it be fair to call Rebecca from Ivanhoe a Jewess? I would elaborate, but I saw the movie when I was 10, and all I remember is that they tried to execute her (possibly for being Jewish?) and that Ivanoe saves her. Although I also don’t remember if Ivanhoe lusts after her / is repulsed by her. Possibly he’s got the hots for Rowena? For that matter, I remember reading Harry Potter and coming across Rowena Ravenclaw’s name and being all, “I know that name! It’s from Ivanhoe!”

        I was an easily impressed child.

      • Keri Peardon says:

        I’ve never read the book, so I don’t know how accurate the movie(s) are to it, but Ivanhoe doesn’t lust after Rebecca; he is just chivalrous and wants to do the right thing, even though she’s a Jew. (Jakub is the same way; he doesn’t change his code of chivalry just because he’s interacting with Jews as opposed to Christians.) But I do recall that, in the movie (at least the version I watched), she was called a Jewess, and I believe she was called that in the book, too. Because you did have that bad guy knight who was consumed with desire for her, even though she didn’t return it. He wanted to possess her.

  2. Wow, nice job on the cover, Keri. I could read it and see details clearly. Your bio picture is perfect for the book. I love your picture with your long hair. Don’t you like it for your other books?

    • Keri Peardon says:

      Thank you.

      My other books are modern, so I just don’t feel like my medieval wedding picture works. I would also like something that looks professional for press releases, etc. I am just so horribly un-photogenic! I hate posing and I hate smiling on command even more. (In fact, I don’t smile a lot, period; it’s not that I’m an unhappy person, I just don’t show my emotions much.)

  3. Wallace says:

    I like your new book cover, it’s easier to read than the last version. I also like the text on the back, it tells enough without telling too much. One question, tho, in both covers the girl is tied to a tree. In the original, her clothes are merely starting to fall off, while in this one she is completely naked. Are you trying to get the less romantic and more prurient audience to buy the book?

    Sex sells, but if, in the book, when he rescues her and she’s not totally naked, won’t the reader think you’ve done a bait and switch? That you’ve advertised a far more salacious book than you are providing? I haven’t read the book, so she may be totally naked, but I rather doubt that from your other stories I’ve read.

    If she is fully clothed when he rescues her, I’d go back to the previous cover image, or maybe a different one that isn’t so sexually charged with having a naked woman tied to a tree and the thoughts that might engender as to how she got naked by her captors. It implies that, besides being stripped naked, they most likely raped her as well.

    I’m also not sure as to exactly when the cover art applies to the story. In the blurb, you say he merely finds her lost in the woods and there is no mention of rescuing her from anybody. The cover art may apply to some later part of the story after the Jews are being attacked for desecrating the Host and she has somehow been kidnapped by their attackers. But if he is love struck by her and this is a romance novel, then I rather doubt you would have her captors even strip her naked, let alone rape her.

    Overall, I liked the older image better since it implied a more wholesome rescue and less rapacious captors. Plus, I’ve always liked cover art that actually applies directly to the story in some way and doesn’t deceive the reader. Not that you are trying to deceive the reader, but you might want to pick a cover picture that better describes the actual events in the book.

    Unless, of course, she does get abducted and raped. Then this is an entirely different kind of romance novel that requires a much more mature and thoughtful set of characters to deal with problems not usually found in simple Medieval historical romances.

    What is the Medieval attitude towards maidens who have been raped? Would her rescuer still want her as a wife? Would she be wanted as a wife by anyone? Being a Jew, she can’t just retire to a convent for the rest of her years, but would her family take her back after being raped by gentiles? Would she want to kill herself? Would she be cast out and forced to be a beggar or even a harlot?

    I doubt this is the story you are writing, but it does bring up interesting points you might want to explore in a later novel that is less a romance and more a gritty view of despoiled women in the Middle Ages.

    • Keri Peardon says:

      As with the covers for my Acceptance Trilogy, the cover for The Flames of Prague is not meant to show my characters or any scenes from my book literally. They’re all Pre-Raphaelite paintings which set the mood/tone for the book, even if they’re not 100% like the inside of the book. (Anne Rice is another author who likes classical art for book covers.)

      There is no scene in The Flames of Prague where Alzbeta is tied naked (or clothed) to a tree. And it’s the late 14th century, so you know the armor of both of the rescuing knights is not correct to that time period either.

      BUT, Jakub does rescue Alzbeta from certain death, and she is as vulnerable as a naked (or half-naked) woman when he does so. It is a testament to his chivalry that he doesn’t take advantage of her (just as St. George does not take advantage of the maiden he rescues from the dragon).

      I ended up going with the naked woman picture because 1) the other one shows the knight killing another man, which doesn’t happen in the story. Instead, Jakub and Alzbeta are pretty much alone when he rescues her, although she is hidden in her house, under threat of the mob coming for her; 2) I just liked the interaction between the knight and the rescued woman better; I like the sense of shame that she has, as she is looking away (Alzbeta is similarly ashamed once Jakub finds out that she’s a Jew), whereas his eyes are off in the distance, not looking at her; 3) that particular picture allowed me to cut out part of the background and merge it with the picture of a city on fire, which is what I wanted to do to tie together the rest of the cover and the name of the book.

      And you’d be surprised at what I would do in a romance novel; I’m not heavy on convention. I mean, the first book is told entirely from Jakub’s point of view–never from Alzbeta’s. I don’t know of any romance novel strictly from a man’s point of view.

      The sequel has two main characters–Samuel and his sister Petra. Samuel is married to his cousin, and it’s only after the marriage that she confesses that she’s not a virgin. She was raped by a Gentile about a year before, and her father forced her to say nothing about it until everything was said and done, because Samuel and his parents signed a contract guaranteeing her a certain amount in alimony if he divorced her (something that’s always been legal for Jews to do). Her father gambled that, even if Samuel divorced her when he found out she was no virgin, she would still have enough to support herself for the rest of her life. So, regardless, she would be taken care of.

      Medieval Christian men tended to shun women who had been raped. If a woman was unlucky enough to become pregnant from her rape, that was even worse because it was widely believed that a woman, like a man, released her seed only when she had an orgasm, so, if she became pregnant from her rape, that was used as proof that she had enjoyed the act. In certain times (typically in the earlier part of the middle ages) and certain places (frequently among Vikings and in cultures where polygamy was common, because it reduced the number of available women), it wasn’t uncommon for men to abduct women, rape them, then marry them. Women felt they had no choice but to marry their rapist, because they knew that no other man would want them afterwards. This phenomenon was sometimes used to a woman’s advantage, though, when she wanted to marry a man and her family disapproved. If he was brave enough to run the risk, he could “abduct” her, then they could have (consensual) sex, and then marry–in short, elope.

      If a woman was married when she was raped, then she might have a slightly better life. She could, of course, be accused of consensual sex, which would be adultery and grounds for a divorce. But medieval men could love their wives as much as modern men, and some certainly kept their wives after they had been raped. There’s a famous incident where a squire with a bad reputation violently raped a knight’s wife. The knight was not very important, whereas the squire belonged to the most important nobleman in the country. The squire impugned the lady’s reputation and would not admit to his crime; his lord would not punish him or even give a fair hearing on the matter. So the knight challenged the squire to a trial by combat (this was the last known trial by combat in Europe). It was to be fought to the death, and because the wife swore an oath that she had been raped, her life was forfeit should her husband lose (because God would obviously only allow them to lose if they had been lying). If I remember correctly, a stake and kindling had already been prepared to burn her, should her husband lose.

      It nearly killed him, and the duel took forever, but he did, finally, win. (I want to turn this into a novel one day.) Needless to say, after all of that, he never put his wife aside. I can only imagine that he was very attached to his wife if he was willing to risk his life to kill her rapist and defend their honor.

      Jews, I think, couldn’t be quite so picky. Rape was much more prevalent among Jewish women than among Christian because there was less penalty involved. (Note: I mean rape of Jewish women by Gentile men; Jew-on-Jew rape has never been terribly common.) Jewish men could not duel their wife or daughter’s rapist. And frequently–as we see in the case of Samuel’s wife–the penalty for raping a Jewish girl was fairly minor and was often not paid to girl’s family but to the city or to the lord (frequently a king) who claimed the Jews as his property. It has been said that one of the reasons why Jews only acknowledge the maternal line (meaning only children born to a Jewish mother are considered Jews) is because rape of Jewish women was very prevalent at certain times and it became too difficult to sort out who was really the father. You always know who a baby’s mother is, so it’s easy to say it’s a Jew because she is a Jew.

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