What Color Is Your Book?
Posted by C.J. Chase Jul 7 2011, 12:01 am in color, mood, theme, writing
“Hey, CJ, what’s your favorite color?”
A simple question with an obvious answer: green. For as long as I can remember, my favorite color has been green. When other girls had pink bedrooms, I chose green. As I type this, I’m wearing a green shirt. (But not the same green shirt I first put on this morning. Along the way, I switched to a different green shirt. I have a lot of green shirts.) In fact, terrible Ruby that I am, I don’t have any red shoes — but I do have a pair of to-die-for emerald green heels.
Lisa asked because she wanted to do something special for my upcoming release, so she was planning to change the blog background. Except, as my fingers typed the quick and easy answer — green — I realized my book isn’t green. Well, I suppose considering most copies sold will be paper and not electronic, it’s not environmentally friendly either — but what I really mean is that I don’t picture green when I think of my book. I see gray.
Not a dark, dingy gray of hopelessness, but a happier gray. A bluish-gray like the North Atlantic in winter or the sky at twilight.
I do have a “green” book. The setting is green — summer deep in the Southeastern Virginia forests. The hero has green eyes, and when he dresses up, he wears a green doublet. If my editor decides to buy that book, I hope the cover contains lots of green. (Maybe a cover with my hero is his green doublet? With his sword, of course. Must have the sword.)
I’d never thought about my books having a specific, unique color. Of course, I admit, one of my first concerns about Lisa’s question was that a green background would clash with my cover. One must color coordinate when promoting a book, you understand. But as I further reflected, I realized the green background clashed precisely because all the cover suggestions I sent to my publisher matched the lovely bluish gray impression lurking in my mind, even when I wasn’t aware of it.
I’ve tried to work book color images backwards into other authors’ works, and I’ve discovered I really can’t. (I asked my 16-year-old C.S. Lewis fan what color The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe would be. My guess — obviously white, right? He thought purple.) Perhaps I’m too influenced by a cover that someone else has designed, a cover I most likely saw before I read the words. Or maybe I’m just not close enough to the story to have a color so firmly affixed in my mind.
Knowing the book very, very well is key because my book color identity is a nebulous combination of setting and characters and mood and theme. My bluish-gray book has several scenes at sunset/twilight (including the one on the cover) and one at sea — the prevailing mood is dark and gritty but the story ends on a hopeful note. My green book is a story of new life. My white book takes place in a winter setting of ice and snow, and features a heroine (a governess) who feels her dreams have slipped away and her life is growing cold and sterile.
After I discovered all my books have a color, I asked other authors what colors their books were. The question felt a little Barbara Walters-ish, along the lines of “If you were a tree…” But after some thought, my friends all agreed that each of their books has a color (or even, in some cases, multiple colors).
So, you tell me. Am I crazy? Do I need to step away from the keyboard for a while? Or does your book have a color? If so, tell me what color your book is — and why.