Q: The cover art for most of your novels is extraordinary. How did you come to work with Keith Parkinson?Goodkind:
I got Keith Parkinson because I was so disgusted, angry, and infuriated with the original cover of “Wizard’s First Rule” that I almost quit writing for public consumption
. I was livid. The cover on “Wizard’s First Rule” did not represent in any way what I was writing about. It represented a juvenile, immature vision that reflected nothing about the book. It was complete deception by the publisher, trying to fool people into thinking that I was writing for adolescent males. I was absolutely livid, and I just about tore up my contract and said, “That’s it, I’m not writing anymore books.”
My editor said, “If you don’t like this, then who do you like?” I said, “Keith Parkinson.”Keith did the cover of “Stone of Tears”, but he couldn’t do the cover of “Blood of the Fold”, so we were back to the idiotic covers. After that, Keith did all the covers. Throughout the series, my goal has been to steer the covers away from traditional fantasy covers because I’m not writing fantasy. I’m accidentally published by a fantasy publisher so I get thrown in with that genre
, but my books are no more fantasy than a detective novel is a “gun book.” What makes me nuts about the fantasy genre is that, unlike any other genre, people become obsessed and focused on irrelevant things. For example, in a detective novel, if a detective has a Snub Nose 38, no one asks him questions like “Can we know more about the Snub Nose 38?” or “Have you ever thought of doing some kind of special story just about the Snub Nose 38?” It’s a distraction.The cover of fantasy art tends to illustrate those themes of those authors who are writing those kinds of books. I’m not one of them, and I don’t want to be seen as one of them.
From the beginning, my goal has been to steer the cover art away from those representational images. Keith became a really good friend, and he would do covers before I even wrote the books. I was describing to him what a cover needed to look like, and then as an artist, I could convey to him very accurately what I wanted him to paint. He and I got along very well and had a great time designing covers. My goal was to pull out of Keith something more noble than the typical red dragon.For example, with “Faith of the Fallen”, I need you to paint a painting that illustrated the nobility of the human spirit. He said, “Oh, gee, don’t give me anything too hard, Terry!” [laughs] My goal has always been to write above that kind of representational art. Even with covers like “Temple of the Winds” where you see a guy [on the cover] holding a sword; that, to me, is a really cool piece of art, I love it—but as a cover, I don’t like it
, because it turns off vast amounts of readers. You automatically disqualify the book for consideration by much of the public. And these are people who love these types of books [Editor’s note: they don’t], but the art doesn’t convey to them that they like it.I’ve gotten most of my readers by word of mouth. My typical reader, probably 80-90 percent of my readers, don’t read fantasy. I’m the only “fantasy” author they read, otherwise for them it’s general fiction. They recognize that the books aren’t fantasy books, they’re books about people, they’re character-driven. My goal has always been to change the cover art in a way that represents the spirit of what the book is about. With Chainfire
, and Confessor
, those are the first books that are truly my vision of what I want the covers to be.
I’ve finally achieved the kind of covers that I want, that give you a hint of the mystery, romance, intrigue, and even a little bit of the fantasy elements in the book, but at the same time, it illustrates how the books are meant for all people, for all people who just like stories. [Editor’s note: these are literally the worst covers he has.]After “Temple of the Winds”, I got contractual cover control. Keith and I designed the Chainfire template of how those [three] books look. When you see Chainfire, Phantom, and Confessor, you’re seeing my pure vision, unadulterated by what anyone else thinks it should be.
Keith and I designed everything down to the smallest detail.