Whatever my brain had at best hazily half-conjured based on that more or less random assortment of illustrations and images I'd found and liked... Well, what HonkHonk returned wasn't anything I'd have ever anticipated.
Up first, fiercely bright and as plastic-y as Lego—
We quickly moved away from that one.
Aside from legibility issues and a lack of any clear relation to the novel's plot elements, there was to me a bit of a retro feel to it, in this case a rather particular retro: the Memphis Group of the early 1980s made famous by the work of Ettore Sottsass and Michael Graves—
After that, and with the eye-soothing application of black, elements of all the proposed ideas intrigued me. Asking around, however, as in "What do you think of this?" and "Which one of these do you prefer, and why?," I noticed that people have really strong reactions and opinions. The 'wrong' font, apparently, is tantamount to sin, as is an ambiguous image, or a tonality that implies "childish." Good to know...
(This asking around is never uniformly useful or productive because there's such a surprising variety of opinion about the same image. Why that surprised me, I do not know; but each time two people delivered radically opposed views, I felt a bit caught off guard. In fact, for every, "Wow, I love that," it seemed there was an equal: "God, that's awful"; and for each, "That looks really current and attractive," I heard, "It's tired and dated and it would make me think the book wasn't worth reading." Consensus, then, must be a dream, or else a mirage you'd always imagined to be real.)
Gradually, the ropey font disappeared: too country and western perhaps. As did the mountain backdrop (which I still think of as pretty. Others: "Too Group of Seven," "Too CanLit-y," "Seems kinda amateur," and so on). The process—back and forth, give and take, add and subtract, rearrange and re-size—refined ideas until they they were as 'good' as they could be. At that point, everyone weighed in and HonkHonk dropped that and replaced it with this, and so forth—
At long last (and thanks to the internet: talking on the phone about these ideas, or actually meeting to talk about them, or, god forbid, mailing illustrations and notes back and forth would be onerous, if not an ordeal), we all settled on the one we settled on because, to simplify, we liked it the most.
No doubt, the final version will draw favour and criticism for one reason or another. I'm more than happy with it, though, and since no one has ever even partially convinced me that design relates in any way to volume of sales, social prominence, or buy buyer acceptability, a jacket design that pleases my eye (and my publisher's eye, of course) also pleases me and adds to my sense of accomplishment of having written a novel in the first place and managed to get it published—