Stephen King Cover Project
This is an ongoing project inspired by the fiction (and sometimes non-fiction) writing of Stephen King. If you have yet to read these stories and have every intention to do so, please be forewarned... SPOILERS BEWARE.
The first in my series of cover designs, I had always been disappointed by the covers for this novel, which usually tended to come across as lackluster or dull in comparison to many of his more beloved works.
The story concerns the alien takeover of a small town amidst rural paranoia over a nearby nuclear power plant. Themes also explored include emotional isolation and drug addiction. Famously, this was the last novel King wrote before giving up drugs and alcohol. As a result, the novel documents the desperation of his battle with his addictions.
Having read the novel earlier this year, I was amazed by how lonely the story felt. The first 70 pages or so followed a single character, Bobbi Anderson, who only spoke in internal monologue. She lived alone in the woods, so I wanted to recreate that feeling in the cover design, overlaying the ominous green glow King had repeatedly cited throughout the novel.
Admittedly, this is a traditional cover design inspired by the idea of King covers, a style sadly absent on contemporary bookstore shelves. Nothing would bring me more joy than to see the return of this retro trade dress.
This was the novel I read immediately after completing The Tommyknockers. I'd always heard that this was King's favorite of his own stories and that it cemented his sometimes problematic reputation as a master of the macabre with the reading public. Reading the story, it is obvious to see why. It is not only a classic vampire story, it is a Dracula story, and on that count it exceeds every expectation.
The true genius of the story, however, is that it tricks you into thinking you are reading a 'haunted house story' and nothing else. In crafting my cover I hoped to strike a balance between the haunted house fake-out and the lurking presence of the vampire threat.
This cover was probably the easiest of the series to accomplish thus far because when the title of the novel is also the date of the assassination of J.F.K. and that event is the driving force of the plot, you're going to need to reflect that in your design.
In a way, this novel pulls off a similar feat to 'Salems Lot by tricking you into thinking the novel is about a time traveler preventing the killing of a U.S. president when, in truth, the story is a love story and one of its stronger themes is how we forget the nasty side of our nostalgic reveries.
The Texas School Book Depository, from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired his killing shot, is even referred to in the novel has having evil energy, very much making it a 'haunted house,' haunted by its own future of infamy. It only made sense to use a photo from within that building at the time to enhance this trick of distraction by King.