Susan Coll

TheMillions.com
Art Inspires Fiction

Shortly after I turned in my new novel, The Stager, my editor sent me a startling black and white photograph of a woman in a chair. The woman is in a state of graceful repose, with long legs extending into strappy black shoes. She is sultry, sexy, and extremely unsettling. She appears to be beautiful even though you cannot see her face because she is wearing a mask. The art director was suggesting updating this image to use as the cover of the book.

It was apparently an iconic Bauhaus photograph. I could toss the word Bauhaus around as well as the next person, but to be honest, I didn’t really know what it meant, apart from having something to do with Germany and a slim treatise on architecture by Tom Wolfe. That Bauhaus might also involve Jungian images of women in chairs was surprising; more puzzling was what this had to do with my novel — a dark comedy about home staging set in suburban Maryland. But to be honest, I didn’t really care. I loved this photograph in all its weirdness and, more to the point, I was just relieved that no one was proposing slapping on my novel the image of a woman holding a briefcase, a baby, or a mop.

The updated image that was created for the book jacket hewed closely to the original, but now that it was infused with color and light, not to mention the comical silhouette of the belligerent rabbit who plays a central role in the book, the cover seemed more playful than spooky — or so I thought. Not everyone I showed it to agreed; my agent reported that the British publishers thought the cover was “too S&M,” for example.

Read the full article at TheMillions.com
PREVIOUSALLNEXT

more articles

Book Review
The New York Times
Nina Stibbe’s “Reasons to Be Cheerful” is so dense with amusing detail that I thought about holding the book upside down to see if any extra funny bits might spill from the creases between the page.
Essay
Washingtonian Magazine
Don’t think you can skip reading Personal History because you’ve seen the movie The Post or read All the President’s Men. Graham is perhaps best known for presiding over her newsroom during Watergate as well as her courageous decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, but the events that put her at the helm of the Washington Post are just as dramatic.
Book Review
NPR
It was nearly 20 years ago that I first read A Good Man in Africa. I lived in India at the time, and aspired to write sweeping literary fiction of the sort that featured memsahibs sipping sweet lime sodas against the backdrop of heat and dust.
Scroll to Top