The Art of Books: Lisa Desimini…
…and the Southern Vampire Novels
Sometimes, we really do get what we see when it comes to book covers.
I’ve made no secret about my love of the Southern Vampire novels by Charlaine Harris. I also happen to find the covers as enthralling as what they contain. It’s no surprise when I stand in front of my bookshelves, contemplating what to read, and I pull one of the SV books out just to look at the cover art. Again.
I’d always been delighted with the books’ outer, child-like illustrations juxtaposed against the humorous and sometimes much darker stories. The covers represent, for me, a somewhat innocent whimsy, a sort of shy invitation to come closer…no, closer still…till I’m opening the thing and beginning the journey it intended for me in the first place.
It’s a very humble beginning with the cover of Dead Until Dark at first glance, until you look closer. It’s hard to see in the example above, but Sookie’s expression is closed, yet dazed and so trusting – innocent, as we came to know her in her introduction to the world of readers. She is unaware of the danger that has her in its grip, one Bill Compton, vampire computer geek extraordinaire. Extending ever so unobtrusively over his cape is one tiny fang, accompanied by a seemingly calculating gaze. The cover goes on to prepare us for the dark and sinister with the small burning house in the background. The house is very much alone. But is Sookie? In some ways yes, others - no.
As it turns out, Lisa Desimini, the creator of the wonderful SV covers, is in fact a children’s author, who pens and illustrates her own books as well.
I found it refreshing to visit her site and see where Ms. Desimini’s inspiration comes from. Oh, it definitely comes from the books, I don’t think anyone would dispute that the Southern Vampire book covers represent what is at the heart of each installment, yet looking over the work put into her children’s art as well, it’s no wonder at all where her sense of style comes from. I think it is whimsical, as well as strange, striking, scary, provocative to the senses. All things I find the Sookie books to be, actually.
Readers like for the books they read to have covers that match them, match the stories within. It completes the package, and with the Sookie Stackhouse books, I feel like I’m getting that entire package. The laying of hands on a new SV book, seeing that obviously dedicated work in the cover, is one of the highlights of my reading life each year. I must say, as a reader that does not prefer hardbacks, the artwork looks absolutely gorgeous on the hardback editions. On the mass market releases, the artwork does its job very well; it snags the eye, presents a bit of humor, danger, yet downplayed by vibrant hues and soft touches here and there. On the hardback copies though, this art really comes alive and shines. It’s as if I’m getting an excerpt of the book right on the cover.
I believe book covers should represent what is inside. I believe what is inside should live up to that cover, and vice versa. The Southern Vampire books and Charlaine Harris’ writing do just that; it is a marriage most excellent.
To learn more about Lisa Desimini and her work, visit her site.