charting new waters: photo illustration in contemporary romance

Parisian Phoenix Publishing is going to blaze a different trail in publishing with the pocket contemporary romance Trapped. It’s illustrated!

It makes sense, doesn’t it? Parisian Phoenix likes to stray off the beaten path. If you would want ordinary you’d go to a mass marketer, not an indy press.

Trapped, the next novel on the Parisian Phoenix roster, offers protagonists who are “real people” which was unheard of in the contemporary romance scene in previous eras. The novel was written more than a decade ago featuring an overweight woman about to turn 40, overeducated and underemployed, which turned out to be a fascinating prognostication of the current gig economy.

Back in September, I talked about designing the cover for this skunkapade. The cover was being shot by photographer and Plastiqueville’s creator, Joan Zachary. I believe it’s quite the juxtaposition to have plastic people illustrating a eco-themed book. It works.

Everyone who lives in Plastiqueville has a second chance at life being found at garage sales and other icky places. Kind of like the land of misfit toys—no longer wanted and discarded. When the residents of Plastiqueville agreed to model for the cover we bought a plastic skunk because they didn’t have one.

Apparently no one disgards plastic skunks. Or worse, maybe they don’t buy them to begin with. Shortly thereafter, the emails started arriving. Let’s brainstorm, they said.

To put this into perspective, do you remember back in the day going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show? Do you remember how the audience would arrive in costume and act out the movie? Or, in today’s terms, how those who are into cosplay become other people? My great-niece is Belle with a wig and a big yellow dress. Or maybe the people that attend comic-con as Wonder Woman and Spiderman. People becoming other people.

The residents of Plastqueville had so much fun modeling for the cover that they started to improvise scenes from the book. The first one featured a skunk in the bookcase. That’s fun. But that scene isn’t in the book. How can we use it? I don’t know.

Then another one arrives. Our heroine, Ed, looking into a stand-up mirror with three skunks behind her. (See above.) It was delightful.

Conversations ensued about what to do next. Soon there was a shot list and Joan was setting-up for the fundraising ball. You can really see the diversity of Plastiqueville’s residents in this shot.

The latest image is for the pet adoption fair. The set is made from recycled beverage bottles and whasi tape.

Who needs Hollywood when you have imagination? I can’t wait to see what’s next.

See Joan’s post here.

Published by gfhendricks

Designer, educator, seeker of hidden typography

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