Thursday, 18 May 2017

Quaint old England.

I suppose the title of this post says it all: Quaint Old England, the England tourists flock to in their thousands every week, Albeit the majority come merely to see London and the usual more famed tourist attractions, for those who choose to venture far and wide in search of places featured within novels there are many more treasures to discover along the way.

Bath 1800s

In one brief paragraph I can name British authors who represent places where they were born, grew up, and lived centuries ago, and not so very long ago. Daniel Defoe, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, The Bronte Sisters, Thomas Hardy, to name but a few of the earlier great novelists. Latterly, Daphne du Maurier, Winston Graham, Georgette Heyer, Jean Plaidy aka Eleanor Hibbert, also known as Victoria Holt, and then there were Catherine Cookson's north eastern based novels.  The list goes on but one has to stop somewhere. The end...

Well not quite the end, but all the above earlier authors loved England and depicted the cities and the countryside as they knew it, and the later authors reflected the country as they knew it from childhood and the war years. Much of England had remained unchanged for centuries barring wartime Britain (WWII) and the aftermath of rebuilding after bomb damage. Thus in the last fifty years much about Britain has changed due to outside influences and cultural diversity, but old England and its city communities of old and its rural traditions are depicted with clarity within novels penned by the above authors, but even now there are places that are little changed and remain gems of Old England..

The toll gate at Porlock Weir, not only is it pretty but one can see it was a livelihood for the gate keeper, whose cottage bridges the toll gate. The problem with this lovely toll gate, is the fact it didn't exist in the Regency era, it was built much later. The toll being paid elsewhere at a local inn, and the gate was at the inn. 

St Dubricious Church in Porlock itself has an unusual spire, not unlike towers oft seen on a French chateau.

Both places are subsequently featured in my next Regency novel, albeit fleetingly, and although I only include the odd image (sketch) of a house within e-books I do now include illustrations within paperbacks. Am I right or wrong in providing images? Who knows, but for those unfamiliar with England, surely a few images as discovered within old novels does give insight to places most tourists never venture to. Thus the next novel is a follow-on from The Reluctant Duchess which for the most part was set on Exmoor, the place made famous by the novel Lorna Doone. 

Instead of the Duke and Duchess of Malchester and their love affair which developed within wedlock despite the duchess' reluctance to engage with her husband, this time around it's the Earl of Sheldon's turn to fall head over heels in love, something he thought could never happen to him, given he really is a dissolute rake hell. But feeling a tad jaded after his last soiree at a house party May Thorne has stolen his eye, The problem being she's a married woman, and when her husband is murdered, did Marcus enact the unthinkable? Due release Ist of June.          

Due release Ist of June. 

Friday, 5 May 2017

Avoiding breach of copyright/ownership of images.

The title says it all, doesn't it, more especially when you're an Indie author. Stock photos with models in fancy dress are easy to obtain, and what else is there in avoidance of breaching copyright artwork? 

Stock photos rarely cut the mustard for many historical novels when the hero is wearing the wrong uniform (something out of Disney fairy tale), wrong shirt, and modern riding boots. Yep, those boots and open shirts are the big fail. Men didn't wear button-through shirts they wore smock shirts What is more, a beautiful  21st century evening gown with deep cut back and falling off the heroine's shoulders kills the sense of true history for die-hard fans of specific historical periods, as do strapless gowns. And the worst case scenario is when you've penned a Regency and your hero and heroine are on your cover in all their finery and perhaps indulging a provocative pose, and then, Oh No, you see the same cover on a Victorian novel, as do readers who then wonder if they have the right book because they purchased a novel a few days ago sporting the same cover. And sometimes there's worse to come when you see the title is the same as on your book, and hopefully set in a differing period or another era.  The Reformed Rake is a popular one, or To Wed a Duke, et al. You know the trending as well as I do.     

So what to do, if you are as period specific as I am, in not only using archaic prose, but seeking that image you have in mind that depicts a special scene or moment from your book? Yep, it's pretty much an impossible task unless you are moderately handy with pencil and paints, being water colour, acrylics, or oils. So what else can you do? 

A lot of authors look around for a lovely portrait of a man or woman from the chosen period in which their novels are set, but there can be a bit of catch in that with breach of use, because some of the most famous portraits are of famous people, So how can you possibly have Lady Grantham as your heroine, who is, for fiction's sake, Lady Annabelle Marchment?  This portrait may indeed belong to the Grantham's and may not truly be in the public domain, it being a private family portrait. To say the artist is long dead therefore his original artwork is all now public domain, unfortunately family portraits were commissioned for private display and inheritance, And unless those portraits have been sold on the open market and are public domain for open commercial licence usage as reprints, and note a book cover is a reprint for commercial use, then be wary for you could find yourself in court for profiting from private property! 

Just because some happy snappy tourist sneaked out a camera or pointed their smartphone at a portrait whilst tramping around an English Stately Home, and then posts the happy snaps on their Pinterest page, that doesn't give carte blanche to use those pics as a commercial item.      


But you can indeed seek out public domain artwork by famous artists, but always check to see if they are free of restrictive licence. If you want a classical image to represent your hero or heroine there are many, many unnamed miniatures in the public domain, some enchantingly pretty ladies, and others less fortunate but may be perfect for that ugly duckling romance story!  

I used this one for Adelle la Comtesse Montacute, in The Trevellians' of New-Lyn, She was as I visualised her, and I had her to hand... But -   

Take National galleries et al who sometimes charge a fee for commercial usage. And why shouldn't they, for they are what they are National Treasure Houses, where beautiful artwork receives TLC, and where restoration of old paintings, (some disgustingly filthy) which require painstaking concentration and skilled expertise to bring the glory of the original back to semblance of its former self,  So do think before you gripe when asking to use artwork for a non-fiction work and you are asked to contribute to the upkeep of the gallery by paying a fee to profit from work that has at best been cleaned if not fully restored, and thank your lucky stars the gallery could provide the work you wanted. 

Even though I have for many years created artwork from scratch (pure imagination and by study of other artwork) there are times I have come across public domain artwork that was out of copyright, and I've thought lordy, why did the artist paint her that way, especially ladies on horseback riding side saddle, or I see the horse is out of proportion head wise to it's body. Stubbs is oft a prime example of long backed, sometimes oversized bodies, with fine boned legs and small Arab/Turkman heads. So if horses did indeed look like that back then, all I can say, is that equine wouldn't have given some of the large men standing alongside many years of service.  But aside from horses, here's an example of an original Heywood Hardy, and below is my version in which the lady is displayed to full advantage with riding habit flowing. And yes, the image is a reverse image, and the horses and the riders are almost identical but not quite, because I painted my couple with similar hats but differing outfits and distinct faces, unlike the original.

Heywood Hardy - a pretty country scene and as seen on lots of book covers.


My version is depicted with the house the heroine inherits.

And all that said, I quite like elegant still-life classic looking book covers that quite a good many authors turn to for exclusive covers, but you know, with a little imagination one can make a cover from period fashion plates: