Behind the Magic ~ The Story Behind the Cover Art of Poison or Protect

Hello Gentle Reader,

Today I have for you the story behind the cover of Poison or Protect! Which you can now Preorder from:




Barnes & Noble

Quick reference (from my RWA chapter presentation on Saturday)


And now more on the cover art of my first self-published novella…  

POISON OR PROTECT: A Delightfully Deadly Novella

Out June 21, 2016!



I had a good idea of what Preshea looked like, and frankly, Autumn is a friend of mine and I always thought of Preshea as looking a little bit like her. Not that Autumn is cold or liable to poison you (in fact she is one of the warmest, nicest, most generous people I know), but she does have the right LOOK.

Autumn and I have worked together (once, long ago in a different life I actually did some modeling for her, but I digress) so I pinged about her professional images and turned up this gem.


Why did it attract me?

I wanted something confrontational, with Preshea staring out of the cover directly at the reader. (She’s an assassin after all. It needed to feel almost aggressive.) I liked the contrast of the white dress/underthings with this pose. (This was from a wedding shoot. Dark Garden does some truly amazing bridal couture.) Also the cover MUST say romance, I can’t have readers deluded by the cover into thinking this is any other kind of story. I work very hard never to leave my readers feeling betrayed and that starts with cover art. I feel like this image hit all the right notes. So I reached out to Autumn and she gave me the photographer’s contact info. A short while later the lovely Perry Gallagher had licensed me the image.

Image in hand I went to Starla Huchton for the cover design.

How did I find Starla?

Starla is a friend of mine via the podcasting world. However, that alone would not have been enough, if the quality of her work weren’t stellar. She’s a particularly adaptable cover art designer, who can change her style drastically given the type of story. Take a look at her gallery if you don’t believe me.

So we talked fonts, putting paint slashes behind my name and title, arrangements, layout, and so forth. The idea was to draw on the slashing-behind-the-words style of my first series, but keep the coloration and lay out style of my second series, since the Delightful Deadly Novellas feature characters from the Finishing School books. At the same time, this cover had to be different enough to show that this was a new series, adult, and romantic.



The first and second passes.  You can see that after the first pass I asked to see the font as white over black, and shifted down, also I wanted to see what a more vibrant background looked like. I found that blue too vibrant. So Starla tweaked it one final time and…. MAGIC



You can see how the purple is more vibrant but not as overwhelming as the blue? The text is balanced at the bottom, and Preshea looks out at you, calm, coy, and ever so slightly threatening.


Why the purple and not pink like the other first books in your series?

Well, Poison or Protect is NOT the first in a series. It’s a stand alone. I wanted to make that very clear. I felt pink might be misleading. Also Preshea is not a pink person. She is cool and calm and very icy. She wears blues, greens, greys, and whites in all her appearances in this book and I wanted to stick with that for her character.


Print 1Prudence 1Etiquette&Espionage


Want more behind the scenes sneak peeks? Join the Chirrup



Your Moment of Parasol . . .

1861 La Belle Assemblee
Wednesday, May 1, 1861 Item ID-  v. 41, plate 123


Your Infusion of Cute . . .

Afternoon dress, 1855-65. via shewhoworshipscarlin tumblr


Your Tisane of Smart . . .
10 Tea Mugs & Sets Perfect for an Afternoon Break

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Harvard Loses Copyright Infringement Case Against Steve Elmo

Book News:
Gail Carriger Made the 100 Must-Read Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels By Female Authors list by BookRiot

Quote of the Day:
“Everyone’s mysterious before you know them.” “But w-when you know me, I won’t be mysterious anymore.” “Yeah, you’ll be you, and that’ll be better.”
~ Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall


Questions about Gail’s steampunk world? There’s a wiki for that!
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Posted by Gail Carriger

3 Responses

  1. Cheryl Low said:

    Thank you for sharing and I can’t wait to read it. I love your world! If I could hug it, I would.

    And getting to see the original photo and the first runs at a cover is so interesting!

  2. Rhiannon said:

    It would utterly DELIGHTFUL if Sophronia would be in one of theses novellas – it’s such a shame that she is barely even mentioned in the Parasol novels, but I suppose that’s the mark of a good intelligencer. 😉

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