I prefer illustrative designs, and those which suggest complexity and don’t give too much away about how the story unfolds. I prefer bold colours.
Please see the 6 reference designs and likes / dislikes, below. Although these reference designs are mostly black and gold, I don’t have a particular preference for these colours. It’s just that most book covers in bookshops seem to be black.
The image must work at thumbnail size, with the title clearly readable at this size. I also notice that a lot of covers for historical novels use a font with serifs.
The general tone of the story is earnest, with frequent (often grim) humour and creative imagery. This is an adventure story first and foremost, but one that arises out of the particular circumstances of a time and place.
The story is set in late 1830s northern England: a small village in the Lake District (forests, mountains, moors, lakes); a camp of outlaws (in a forest, mostly at night, eerie mist); the industrial city of Manchester (factories, chimneys, smog).
The protagonist, Lizzie, interacts with the story settings very physically and sensually. She feels capable and confident in wild, natural settings, and out of her depth in the city.
The noose of the title is NOT a literal object. It refers to three main things:
1. Family ties
2. An emerald necklace – which appears, casually, in the middle of the story; and then at the end, when it is given to Lizzie by the boy who has murdered two men to protect her, and who wants to keep a bond between them, though she has chosen to go a separate way.
3. Throughout the story Lizzie is trying to escape various types of restraint, entrapment and physical death (even execution at one point).
There is also a potential linking image, which relates to the noose of the title: a horse. Lizzie compares herself to a horse as she flees her uncle across the moor. Later she rides a horse to the outlaws’ forest camp, feeling like she is ‘suspended in the mist, atop a horse of supernatural proportions, forever’. And in the final action sequence, she is trapped in a stampeding crowd by mounted soldiers. She describes these horses as wanting to do ‘what their nature demanded, they wanted to run’, which in a way could also describe her. She does a lot of running! But it is also what she can no longer do at the end: she can’t run from the consequences of her actions, even though there is still urgent business back home.
I am planning at least two more novels in the series.