I don't believe this contains any spoilers or much in the way of information that you wouldn't get from reading the back of the book, more or less, but if you don't want to know anything, don't read it. :)
TITLE: HEART OF STONE
SUB-GENRES: urban fantasy, romance
THEMES OF THE STORY: trust, alienation, racial divides, loyalty, friendship
VISUAL HOOK/MOOD: This is dark fantasy, quite literally, as a lot of the story by necessity takes place at night. Our hero, the gargoyle, is alabastar in skin tones and just about literally glows against the night; the heroine is physically much darker than he is, so they have a physical contrast to one another that could be appealing.
STORY TIME PERIOD: Contemporary
STORY LOCATIONS: New York City
SETTING COMMENTS: This is pretty much New York as we know it, only with gargoyles and vampires and djinn, oh my. Some of the important scenes are set at Trinity Church; that might make an especially pretty background for the cover, although the contrast of a gargoyle against the Chrysler Building or Empire State Building could highlight the juxtaposition of the fantastic world meeting the modern one. St. John the Divine is another significant setting, and with all its gargoyles, that could be a really fun place to use for a backdrop. Again, the obvious modernness of the art deco buildings might work better, though. Same with Central Park, which features in the book: it can clearly be used as a setting, but the impact of a gargoyle amidst comparative wilderness just isn't the same as it is throwing him up against a recognizeable NYC.
Ooh ooh ooh, or there's a stained glass window of all the Old Races, a Tiffany window with really gorgeous colors. That might make a totally awesome cover, with Margrit looking on at the window:
Rendered together, the abstract colors of the three speakeasy windows made a whole and complete picture, each photo giving depth and structure to the other layers. Greys no longer made random splotches in the brilliant shades of crimsons and teals; sand-dune yellows built clear shapes, none of them complete without the others.
"That looks like a dragon." Cole pointed to the dominant crimson, coiling around the combined frames into a sinuous whiskered creature of power and grace.
"Gargoyles," Margrit whispered, touching the greys on the screen. The gargoyle pictured seemed more delicate than Alban, as if it was perhaps female, but the breadth of wing and the comfortable crouch were unmistakable. She traced blues in the picture, picking out the graceful outlines of a half-human, half-seal creature.
"Mermaids," Cole offered. Margrit nodded, not wanting to correct him. Not wanting to admit how she'd know to correct him.
"Like the chess set. There was a chess set with mermaids and desert creatures in the club."
Cole traced another shape with his fingernail. "Like this? It's the right color, all sandy, for the desert. It looks wispy, though. Like a genie. Want to make a wish?"
"I wish I could figure out what the hell was going on," Margrit said. "And then there's this." She touchedthe one human-looking figure amongst the others, picked out in blacks, a cloak flaring behind it like the gargoyle's wings. "I wonder what it is."
Cole grinned. "Man, conquering the monsters, obviously. All four of 'em."
"Obviously." Margrit slid down in her seat, staring at her screen. Not four, she whispered to herself. Five.The final figure wasn't a man; the cloak was subtlety segmented, more insectoid than Alban's wings, or the representational gargoyle in the picture.
The Old Races.
Cover Elements you favor/wish to avoid: I would personally love to see the covers for the Old Races done in a really romantic Thomas Canty or Stephanie Pui-Mon Law pen and ink & color style. I know that's not the current popular look for urban fantasy, but I think that kind of romanticism would really suit the story and the world--it'd be different and intriguing, and that kind of cover makes people pick up books just to see what the story is, because it doesn't look like everything else out there.
Things that I'm desperate to avoid: Alban, the gargoyle, does not have a tail. Please please please, however he's rendered--and I sort of assume he'll be on the cover as a gargoyle, 'cause hey, gargoyles!--*please* don't give him a tail. And Margrit, our heroine, is of a mixed ethnic background, so again, pleasepleaseplease, don't make her generic vanilla white girl--she should be cafe latte in color. Above all, those two things are important to me. :)
Main Character #1 Description: Margrit Knight is in her late 20s, petite, about 5'3", curvy, of mixed ethnic background (caucasian, african, american indian)--cafe latte in color, like Halle Berry. She wears her hair in dark brown corkscrew curls with copper and gold highlights, and her eyes are brown. She wears strong jewel colors that make her own coloring look particularly striking and dresses well: tailored suits and skirts that are appropriate for a lawyer. She runs for exercise and dresses suitably for that. She has a great weakness for Ben & Jerry's ice cream. :)
Main Character #2 Description: Alban Korund has two forms, his human form and his gargoyle form. Both are very pale; his eyes are yellow and his hair white, and his skin is not quite human in shade: think smooth alabastar.
In his human form he wears well-made suits in grey and wears his hair in a smooth, long ponytail. In his gargoyle form he wears a pair of jeans (for propriety's sake, not out of modesty) and nothing else.
He does not have a tail!!! (Imagine this as flashing and blinking and in 18pt font!)
A description from the book of Alban in his gargoyle form:
The harsh neon light made hard planes of his face, all angles and sharp joinings. He shifted one shoulder, changing his weight, and spread wings with long thin tarsals clawing at wings' peak and edge, like fingers stretched and skin spread between them. Slender blood vessels made black lines through the fragile-looking web, like etchings in silver. He settled back into place, wings folding back down so smoothly Margrit had to look twice to see them, even knowing they were there.
His shoulders were massive, his skin almost white. Not human-white, but pure white, rich, like carved alabaster. The wide mouth was beautifully shaped, even in the impossible new form he wore.
He looked like himself and he didn't. The narrow line of his nose had broadened, as had his cheekbones and the set of his eyes. Pale fell loose and long over his shoulders, color bleached from it until it was unmistakably white, even in the garish neon lights. When he shook his hair back, his ears swept back into distinct points, so fine and delicate Margrit thought a good thump with a fingertip might shatter them. His eyes were colorless, pupils large and swallowing all the available light.
Story Scene #1 scene description: Margrit and Alban go flying for the first time and he brings her to the Chrysler Building. There's a moment where they're both standing on one of the eagle heads that could potentially make for a really neat visual, with Margrit in front of Alban, very human against his alienness. It's a clear night, it's *very* windy up there...the lighting and the angle for that kind of image could be wonderfully dramatic. :)
Story Scene #2 scene description: Flip side of the above scene: Alban brings Margrit to Trinity Church, which he lives beneath. If you wanted to go for the real Gothic look for the cover, there's a whole scene set with them in the graveyard, with the church as the background. That'd be much darker and much more traditionally ... er. Well, 'vampiric' is what leaps to mind, but certainly Gothic, anyway. In both these scenes Margrit's wearing ordinary clothes and Alban's in jeans.
STORY SYNOPSIS: Attorney Margrit Knight has found the perfect man...only he's a gargoyle, and wanted for murder.
When Alban Korund comes to Margrit for help to clear his name of murder, her first impulse is to send him to the police, but when he reveals himself as a gargoyle, one of a handful of "Old Races" left living in the human world, she finds herself drawn into a level of society she never dreamed existed. Unable to face the day, Alban can't risk going to the police, so Margrit becomes his go-between, meeting dragons and djinn, selkies and vampires, all members of the Old Races who participate, to one degree or another, in the every-day world. The more she learns, the deeper in she's drawn, until none of the Old Races want to let her go--except those who want her dead. As the bodies pile up, Margrit races the sunrise to clear Alban's name and keep herself alive.
Questions for Authors to Answer:
1) What is this book about (beyond plot description)? How would you describe it to your friends? What is the takeaway?
It's about the confines of a chosen lifestyle and what people do to break away from that. It's about an ordinary woman whose nature is to face challenges even when wisdom ditates walking away, and what happens to her when she's thrust into an extraordinary world. It's about trying to find where you belong, even when everyone around you thinks they know where you belong. It's about faith and hope and believing in magic when magic comes along.
2) For the key relationship in this book, what is the turning point or climax? Please describe.
Well, the key moment in this book is when Margrit decides she's going to help Alban; when she decides she trusts him. Up til that point she's been trying to remain in the ordinary world despite her curiosity about Alban's world, and he's come to her one last time to ask for help. The moment she decides to help him, her ordinary every-day relationships begin to fall apart, so there's a massive price to be paid for getting involved with the Old Races.
3) What are the overriding themes that run throughout – the bigger message?
Life isn't always what it looks like from the outside, people are people (so why should it be...), racism sucks, especially when you find yourself engaging in it, magic is waiting if you're ready for it
4) What is the significance/inspiration for your title? Is it metaphorical or literal?
Kind of a play on words. Alban's a gargoyle, so of course his heart is of stone. He's also deliberately kept himself apart from the world for a very long time, because his mate died, so he's tried hard to have a heart of stone, and Margrit gets through that.
5) What interesting visual elements (either object or place) have great significance in this book?
...I think I've hit most of the important visual elements in the book at this point. There's also a Harlem warehouse that's a neon-infested casino inside, Margrit's apartment, which is warm and cozy and ordinary, and very lush corporate offices, but the second two certainly don't have the visual impact of the things I described earlier, and the warehouse would be more appropriate for the second book in the series. :)