Under the pen name Amanda Quick, Jayne Ann Krentz has written 32 historical romance novels set mainly in Regency or Victorian England, many of them with a strong mystery element. Her most recent, ’Til Death Do Us Part (Berkley, 2016), has a cover image typical of the Quick novels, with a setting meant to represent the English countryside and, romping through it, a woman in a dress evoking the 19th century.
Several months ago, Krentz and Cindy Hwang, v-p and editorial director at Berkley, decided it was time to take the Amanda Quick novels into the 20th century. Her next romantic mystery, The Girl Who Knew Too Much (Berkley, May 2017), takes place in a fictional coastal town in 1930s Southern California, a haven for movie stars and moguls that becomes a hotbed of scandal.
To signal Krentz’s new direction, Rita Frangie, senior director of art and design at Berkley, set out to create a cover that conjures 1930s Hollywood glamour while still feeling like an Amanda Quick novel. Below, an early pass.
“I wanted to start with something completely different from previous Quick novels—imagery that evoked the 1930s setting,” Frangie says. “Art Deco offers a lot to work with in terms of design elements, like the fan here. But a cover composed only of graphic images tends to suggest literary rather than commercial. Ultimately, we all thought this version was too much of a departure.” Another version, below, brought in a female figure.
“This more photographic take introduces the human element we thought was missing in the first design and retains a glamorous 1930s feel,” Frangie says. “We liked the mystery of a woman whose face is only partly visible.” But the team was concerned that an obscured face was too alienating for potential readers, an issue Frangie addressed in the cover try below.
“Here you can see more of the woman on the cover, and we loved that this design was reminiscent of classic movie posters,” she says. “The spotlight elements fit the Hollywood theme, but they’re competing with the woman’s image rather than working in harmony.” Frangie drew on what had worked in previous passes and came up with the final version, below.
“This incorporates everything we wanted,” she says. “There’s the old Hollywood feel of the woman combined with the Art Deco font. The punch of color and the geometric elements work to accent the drama of the face. We thought we’d nailed it with this one—and the author agreed.”