First I interviewed Sharon of I Smell Sheep fame who is now branching out as a freelance editor (Devil in the Details), now as part of the unsung heroes of the romance novel world, I'm chatting with cover designers! First up is someone I'm lucky to call a "Blogger Buddy." Crystal runs Redheads Review it Better (I choose not to take offense because I'm a brunette and Crystal's and awesome lady lol).
Busy mom of two who's obsessed with romance books. Caught the romance bug when her mother handed her a Kerrelyn Sparks novel and told her to read it.
And then Christmas 2010, she was given a Kindle and thus, a book hoarder was created.
Adria: Hiya Crystal! Welcome to my corner of the world! Have a seat, don't mind the strange noises coming from the... Um, dragon in the basement. Okay it's technically my dog snoring but that doesn't sound as intimidating.
Crystal: Hi Adria!!! Thanks for having me. And I have a snoring husband on the floor and he sounds like a train. To chuck something at him or not….
Adria: The dilemmas we face in our everyday lives huh?
Adria: First off, can you tell me a little about what you do? What exactly is your job title and description?
Crystal: I do a little of everything in the book world but my main focus is cover design and editing. I don’t really have a job title. I’ve been thinking about it for the past week when I realized I didn’t know what to call myself. So as of right now, I don’t have one.
Adria: How about for now we call you a Jack of A lot of Trades?
Crystal: That sounds good to me.
Adria: How did you get started doing cover art?
Crystal: I was a tour coordinator for a promotion company and met author, Leslie C. Ferdinand, whom I’ve become very close with and she liked what I could do graphics wise and asked me to design a cover. After asking her repeatedly if she was sure and getting a repeated, “yes, I’m sure,” in return, I never looked back.
Adria: Can you name some of the books that you’ve done the covers for?
Crystal: Leslie C. Ferdinand: Wicked Addiction, Wicked Allure, Scandalous Allure
Kathryn Kelly: At Last, Misled, Misunderstood
Seraphina Donavan: Bad Girl Lessons, Bad Boy Secrets
And one for myself because-big shocker here-I am writing a book myself (because, you know, I’m not already doing ten different things). Who knows when it will actually get finished, but I am writing. It’s called Far From Home under the name Crystal Leigh. I also have created two pre-made covers but I am mostly proud of the ones I’ve created for the authors.
Adria: About how long does it take on average to design a cover?
Crystal: It really depends. If I know what the author likes, I can knock it out in about an hour if we have all the stock and everything is not being difficult. If I am having a design brain fart, it can take me a couple days of trial and error. Not constantly on the computer but a couple hours each day until something clicks.
Adria: So far, which cover has been the most challenging for you and why?
Crystal: I think Leslie’s cover for Wicked Addiction, a prequel to Wicked Allure. I have done three different versions until I knew I had it. At least those were the ones I sent her. I created at least five that just weren’t hitting the mark. I decided to browse around at some covers on GoodReads and new that I wanted to add a sephia filter on the background and add in an opaque banner and cool design under the title and author’s name. It was beyond frustrating! That took me the longest but thankfully, Leslie was not in a rush to have it done. I think that one took a few weeks.
Adria: There are some truly gorgeous romance novel covers out there, do you have any favorites? I know some of my absolute favorite covers are the ones for Thief of Shadows and Duke of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt, Twilight with the Infamous Earl by Alexandra Hawkins and Rogue Rider by Larissa Ione.
Crystal: I am going to admit I am a complete and utter book whore. I will buy a book without reading the blurb if it has a half-naked man on the cover. That’s actually how I found Jaci Burton’s Play-by-Play series. The Perfect Play with Jed Hill on the front is still one of my faves. I am a fan of Lori Foster’s covers. Especially Getting Rowdy. That guy is smokin’! And then I can’t forget about Julie Ann Walker’s Black Knights series. I love the cover for Born Wild so much I emailed Sourcebooks to find out who the cover model was. His tattoos make me drool.
Adria: Yes! Jaci Burton has some very hot covers! I remember reading Hope Flames and even though the model has his shirt on, it’s still a hot cover. I do love the covers for the Play-by-Play series a lot though and those are next on my list to read. I need to do an in depth analysis, er, take another look at the cover for Getting Rowdy cause frankly I can’t remember what he looks like.
Crystal: In depth analysis or not, I make any excuse to look at some man candy. ;)
Adria: Did Sourcebooks ever get back to you with the name of the model on Born Wild by chance?
Crystal: Yes they did! And he’s tall, dark, and handsome. Just how I like it. His name is Kenny Braasch and no I don’t stalk him…much.
*Hauls butt to go "check" him out* Ooo, he's on Facebook ladies!
Adria: When you're working on a cover, what do you use for inspiration? Do you listen to music to set the mood or do you prefer absolute silence?
Crystal: I wish I had absolute silence or just music. I’m usually toying around during the day so I have the background noise of a four year old and a nine month old. So I’m usually having to stop every couple minutes to tell my oldest to stop jumping off the couch or licking his brother. But if I can do it after my boys go to bed, I’m usually trying to watch tv with the ball and chain.
Adria: Ugh, I really can’t say anything about the background noise that will sound supportive Crystal cause my sister and I were guilty of the same thing all the way up until… Well she got married and moved away. Lol.
Crystal: I have my days but am fairly used to it. My mom ran a daycare out of our home so it was always noisy. When my mom decided to stop when we were in high school, my brother and I replaced all the kid noise with very loud music. Thankfully both parents love music so we could get away with our bedroom doors vibrating with how loud the music was. Lol.
Adria: You also run a review blog called Redheads Review it Better AND you offer services as a freelance content editor, plus I'm sure you have a life outside blogging and designing. How do you balance your time between your everyday life and designing?
Crystal: I run around like a chicken with their head cut off. Lol. I’m not really sure. I try to at least make sure I do something preschool wise with the four year old and my nine month old is currently getting two teeth in at the same time so he is clingy. I try to get what I can done while my husband is at work and when he comes home he’s on daddy duty while I will do some cleaning or if I have to focus on some editing. I will say my house definitely has that “lived-in” feel if you know what I’m saying. ☺
Adria: Oh so you call it “lived-in” do you? I’ll have to remember that because I usually say “Disaster Town” and I only have two dogs.
Adria: Let's lighten things up a bit shall we? How about a little "Either/Or" for fun?
Adria: Red or White Wine?
Adria: Dogs or cats?
Adria: Orion approves of your choice.
Adria: Paperback or Hardcover?
Crystal: Hmm…if it’s a special book and I have to pay for it, (like J.R. Ward’s Lover At Last.) definitely hardcover. Other than that, I am not picky.
Adria: Summer or Winter?
Crystal: Winter. I’m a redhead who lives in Virginia. I walk to the mailbox in the summer and get sunburned.
Adria: Yes! Another winter person! I’m like the palest dark skinned person you’ll ever meet because I hate summer. I get rashes.
Crystal: Well at least your chances for skin cancer are smaller. That’s always a plus. ☺
Adria: Karaoke or Dance Club?
Crystal: Prefer dancing. Of course there are no good clubs around here either so it sucks. But we have the game Singstar on the ps3 and we play that all the time. I’m the reigning champ. ☺
Adria: See? Not too bad right? Thanks for chatting with me Crystal, is there any thing you'd like people to know?
Crystal: Thanks for having me Adria! Since it’s a new year, I hope everyone finds success, happiness, and love. ☺
Adria: Thank you again for stopping by Crystal and I hope the torture, I mean, the questions weren’t too bad.