We are a week away from the Kindle release of my second book, Constant as the Sun. I had initially planned all kinds of fun with a cover reveal today, but the cover is still in the graphic artist’s court, so unfortunately, that’s not an option. I’m still going to talk about it, though, and share a lovely image from the photo shoot that isn’t used on the cover so you at least have something to look at.
Because I knew that Elizabeth would be roughly the same age in the two books, the image for this book cover was photographed on the same day as the image for One Thread Pulled. The photograph used on the soon-to-be-revealed front cover of Constant as the Sun (CatS) has been in my mind all this time. I knew before I even started writing CatS that I wanted the book to contain a corresponding scene.
The scene, part of which I’m sharing with you today, has been brewing in my mind for four years now. As a writer, I love the art of weaving hidden strands of meaning and symbolism into what I write, but rarely do I point them out. I think of these things like little Easter eggs that readers can hunt out on their own if they are of a mind to do so. Jane Austen was a master at the art of the literary Easter egg, while I can only aspire to such. Today, I’m going to make an exception to the rule of never pointing them out and will partially deconstruct a few paragraphs from the scene so that as a reader, you might have a sense of my thinking as a writer.
The image that will be on the cover manifests in the book as a dream. Another writer once told me that if your characters are asleep, your readers will be too, so I have learned to use dreams sparingly. You can be 100% certain that if there is a dream in my writing, it has a deeper meaning. Mr. Darcy is dreaming here, and he is both feverish and medicated. Although I don’t specifically reveal the scene to be a dream at the outset, the style of my writing deliberately shifts. Although there remains a narrative, it’s slightly disjointed and I drop little hints throughout that there is something “dreamlike” to the scene. Readers may not recognize it as a dream when they first begin to read it, but when they get to the part where they realize it’s a dream; it (hopefully) doesn’t feel like a cheap device that tricked them, but makes sense because it did feel different. Here is the first paragraph:
“Lizzy, Lizzy! Where are you?” Darcy ran along a deer path in the forest, following the laughter that echoed around him. He stopped to catch his breath, and as soon as he was able, he called to summon his hunting dogs. “Apollo! Artemis!” When no answer came from the canine siblings, he pierced the air with his loudest finger whistle and they barked in response. Seconds later, he could hear one crashing through the underbrush toward him. The larger of the two emerged, barked and danced playfully with his front paws in a frenzied invitation to follow. “Apollo! Stay!” Darcy commanded, but the sound of tinkling laughter instantly diverted the animal’s attention and he watched helplessly as his disobedient dog bounded away.
For context, the reader knows that Elizabeth is being prevented from being with him and that Darcy is not in a safe situation. The first theme of the dream is, obviously, searching for Elizabeth. Even in his condition, he senses her absence. Then there are the dogs. When canines appear in dreams, the interpretation goes to themes of friendship, loyalty, and protection. Note that Darcy can hear the sounds of Elizabeth’s laughter around him, as opposed to coming from a specific direction. The unusual nature of the sound is the first hint that this is a dream.
Darcy took up the chase, following Apollo out of the woods and into the walking paths of Pemberley’s gardens. Damp from exertion and dew, he stopped to wipe his brow and take in the splendour of his estate. The landscape was alive with the soft greens of new growth and the vibrant blossoms of spring. “Lizzy, please!” he called, running toward the arbours where Apollo had disappeared. “Wait for me!” Hearing her teasing voice call out to him, he followed her into the arbour, where ancient vines hung in tapering clusters that harboured the humming bees from the Pemberley hives. The blossoms swung gently in the breeze, the dappled light of morning filtering through and around them; a glorious array of pale purple sprays surrounded by sunlit motes floating in the air.
In the woods, he was on a deer path and lost, but here, Darcy transitions to familiar grounds. The dampness he feels is an extension of his fever that he has incorporated into the dream. He has talked to Elizabeth of visiting Pemberley at Easter, so this scene is an extension of daydreams he has had in his mind of hosting Elizabeth at his estate in the spring and includes references to elements specific to his home. Arbors in dreams can have many different meanings, but in this dream, I went with it representing a safe haven. Wisteria in dreams is a symbol of love and the prospect of a long and happy marriage. It is also symbolic of immortality and many generations both forward and backward.
Then he saw Elizabeth, her curls gleaming in the sun. Her dark eyes flirted with him over the edge of her open fan; her hands clasped together to hold it to her face. The dress she wore was not one of her fashionable new gowns, but the same lilac frock she had worn when they had walked together in the garden at Netherfield. A sudden zephyr pressed the skirts against her legs exposing the shape and form they were intended to conceal. Darcy froze where he stood, stunned by the very essence of her being. Love for her washed over him, filling him with tenderness and admiration for the glorious woman standing as a goddess before him. He was overcome then, by a yearning desire so profound that he closed the distance between them in a heartbeat. She collapsed the fan in a sudden snap and pressed it to her lips, her eyes echoing the meaning behind the act.
This paragraph is where the photo comes into play. It incorporates memories of the past, and the fan Darcy gave Elizabeth as a New Year’s gift. Fans in dreams are an indicator of agitation or disturbance. In previous chapters, Darcy and Elizabeth have joked about how flirtatious women use a fan to send messages, and Elizabeth employs the fan to do so here. The dream continues beyond this point, but I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity for the upcoming cover reveal.
This delay also impacts setting up a pre-sale option on Amazon, since you need the cover to do so, meaning I may not be able to offer pre-sales as I had intended. Not to worry, though, when it goes live, I’ll post and tweet like a crazy woman.