In celebration of Keeper of the Light’s reissue, I thought I’d share some of its many covers, starting with (gulp) the original. This cover never made it to the bookstore because my agent and I both screamed so loudly when we saw it that the art department at HarperCollins cowered in fear. Keeper of the Light is the story (in part) of Annie O’Neill, who dies in chapter one. Annie is a larger-than-life character. She’s a stained glass artist and a free-spirited do-gooder. Such a do-gooder, in fact, that she was known in the Outer Banks, NC community where she lived as “Saint Ann.” So I think the whole stained glass/saintly thing went to the artist’s head. Fortunately, the freaky little woman was removed, leaving behind the tasteful and moody hardcover jacket below for Keeper’s 1992 debut in the bookstores. This is a cover I still love.
About a year later, Keeper was released in paperback. HarperCollins went all out, and this cover was something special. I absolutely loved the die-cut of Annie on the front. Note the “money back guarantee.” I’d forgotten about that. This book sold extremely well, and I always thought it was because of the cover, but maybe it was that guarantee that did it!
So I was really, really happy when I saw this cover. . . until I opened it and saw the stepback:
A clinch cover! A bodice ripper! I was mortified at having a clinch on my cover because, while there is definitely a romance in the book, to me it was not the major thrust (er, so to speak) of the story. But in retrospect, this is a fairly amazing cover and as I mentioned before, it gained me lots of new readers. Plus, the Annie profile with her red hair and the stained glass peacock feather is just cool.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom took a more sedate approach to Keeper of the Light. The UK was about two decades ahead of the US in using photographs on its covers. I loved their Annie’s hair, and I think they caught just the right expression on her face. She’s saying “I may be beautiful and you may think I’m amazing, but you have no idea how screwed up I really am.”
Keeper of the Light was reissued once before by my current publisher, Mira Books. Ten years after its original publication, I was still hearing from readers who wanted to know what had become of the O’Neill family, so I decided to find out. I wrote two more books, Kiss River and Her Mother’s Shadow, visiting the O’Neills more than a decade after the events in Keeper of the Light, and what fun it was to figure out what had happened to them in the interim! But before those two books were published, it only made sense to bring Keeper out one more time so readers could get to know the family and its origin. Here’s the cover Mira used in the 2002 reissue. Simple, but really pretty.
Now, we’re all caught up. I have to say the new 2011 cover is my favorite. It captures both Annie and the light. . . and something else. For those of you who’ve read the book, you might remember the significance of the red scarf she’s carrying. For those of you who haven’t, I hope you’ll take a chance and find out.