Bimbo, verse Two:
There’s black leather on the bimbo in my book.There’s black leather on the bimbo in my book,
While I’m sure she’s lot’s of fun,
My heroine’s a nun
Who wears black leather on the cover of my book.
I must admit that I don’t recall who wrote the current verse two of Bimbo, but it has to do with wardrobe malfunctions. You know: You’ve said your characters are in Regency England and they look as if they just stepped off an omnibus at Piccadilly . . . in 1960.
Our first wardrobe malfunction comes to us form the cover of Brenda Clough’s Crystal Crown. The females in her story, she tells me, were wont to wear floor-length gowns with long sleeves. She was therefore perplexed by what the groveling woman on the cover was (not) wearing.
Brenda described the outfit, charitably, as wet kleenex. My teenaged daughter took one look at the cover and was perplexed by the young lady’s … er … dimensions. Specifically, her derriere.
“What is that?” she asked. “Is she being attacked by a giant tick?” Upon closer inspection, she realized her mistake and was suitably embarrassed.
Well, I can’t top that. But I did have somewhat of a fashion malfunction in the second book of the Meri series—Taminy. Note, if you will, that the maidens are modeling vivid velvet outfits that go elegantly with their apparently blow-dried hair. The facts are these: the girl lying dazed upon the ground was riding the horse you see in the background being held in the hands of the blond beefcake (who actually is in the book). The woman who is administering the healing magic was out foraging in the fields and woods for medicinals. Both are described as wearing homespun shirts, breeches and jerkins.
Judith Tarr is no stranger to this phenomenon. I will let Judy tell her own sad tale of wardrobe disaster.
I had written a young-adult horse fantasy starring a medieval Turkish girl who dressed as a boy and rode, undetected, to war. Medieval Turkish horse archers were thoroughly and modestly dressed. It was not hard for my protagonist to conceal her gender.
So, of course, I got A Bimbo On The Cover Of My Book. Not only that, a Red-Headed Bimbo in a see-through harem costume.
With a detachable arm. And a honking huge scimitar. On an equally “well” proportioned horse the size of Godzilla (but devoid of any boy parts to balance her rather prominent girl parts).
When I questioned the choice, the editor informed me, “We wanted to expand the audience of your book.”
Right. Horny male teens would go anywhere near a book written by a girl, about a girl, with a horse in it.
I may be outvoted, but so far the winner of the award for Wardrobe Malfunction is the Dutch cover of Vonda McIntyre’s Dreamsnake (Droomslang in Dutch). Vonda assures me that she has no problem with full frontal nudity. She does, however, have a problem with full frontal nudity that is nowhere in the book.
Is it silly to be concerned with such things? Well, I can tell you that Taminy, which is the middle book in a series—sold far fewer copies than the first and third books (which, considering that you really have to read Book Two to understand Book Three, is unfortunate) I had at least one fan who said they thought the book was a romance rather than a straight-up fantasy novel. So, yes, boys and girls, a cover can affect book sales.
Next time: Verse Three—Dragons