Like all my books, I describe the cover I have created. It is a habit from when I acted in the theater for the deaf, but I owe the literary practice to Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America. – mrb
The Cover for Alienor
Eleanor born as Alienor in 1124, died 1204.
Alienor imaged for 1137 was synthetically created in 2011 by a nine month generative process on a computer called a Macintosh using the software code from a program called Photoshop. An electrical current of 60 hertz powered the computer, display, and digital pen for me to make the picture and write the novel. The subject is a composite of many women that time gave chance to create.
I shall describe the cover for those unable to see, yet able to hear.
The face is of a Caucasian thirteen-year old female, although to some she appears fifteen. Her hair, a mix of vital colors crimson and blonde, starts thickly as a braided crown that runs over her shoulders down her back, uncut since she was born. Running to her ankles, deep red waves float wildly in the dark behind. Her temple strands are tucked behind her bare listening ears. She wears earrings of pure crystal. (noted shortly*) Alienor’s right eyelid scar and her genealogical portrait are detailed in the chapter ‘Lief and Liege.’ For more, listen there.
Her dress is ambiguous, a burgundy-color stitch-work map on cream-white linen, brought up to her neck. On her figure are drawn crayon color rivers and castles; some imply tattoos. Two blue serpentine rivers suggest a feminine form; one crosses her vocal cords and stops at her chin. The castle-cities have their legends spelled backward. Her capital city Poitiers spells forward, as does Fontevrault by her right shoulder. Under Poitiers, in a faint mist, runs the rim of a scarlet satin guard for her red-horsehair belt. Rivers and castles come from the style of the ancient William Wey crusader hand map. Gray folds of its separation appear as either an upside down sword or a crucifix, centered on Poitiers.
Alienor stands before a star field night. Two bright stars align with her eyes and ears, the largest on her heart side. The star spacing is apparently random, derived from deep space telescope images. The sky holes filter the color glass rose cathedral window of Saint-Denis. Up close they shine intense as jewels. The unfiltered stained glass skirts along the bottom edge of the cover where a panel runs a stitch frame of the ivory-tone Bayeux tapestry. Ghostly gray garden shadows fall on her dress-map. These are silhouettes of lavender and rose with leaves that look like flying birds. Large type in small caps reads ‘Eleanor of Aquitaine.’ Under it, ‘The Young Life.’ The author and illustrator line reads ‘Mark Richard Beaulieu.’
*Note: The earrings are based on the ancient Merovingian crystal spheres stolen and returned to Saint-Denis in 1974. Vigée-Lebrun painted similar gems in her self-portrait at the Kimball Museum. The painting, remarkable for the dimensionally vivid skin, can only be appreciated, just like a person, in person. The impossible red baby mouth shares with the Alienor portrait: lips parted barely showing teeth; the lower lip thrust and cleft, as if in the act of saying ‘live.’