I spent my latter youth in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and in the Carnegie library there (which gave weight to the seriousness of reading by resembling a mausoleum) the historical novels that I loved were illustrated, often with a cover image pasted on, and with a few full color images inside, pasted on themselves. Lesser black and white backups were interlarded here and there. Gulliver! Natty Bumppo! Robinson Crusoe! And much as I am committed to good prose as an adult, I have never outgrown my youthful addiction to the rich perspective that images give the page.
That said, when recently Arauco was finished as a text, I wanted something exceptional for the cover. Trolling the net for actual painters, after much searching and travail I stumbled onto Tyler Jacobson, a young illustrator who will definitely knock your socks off, whether he’s portraying captain Ahab or Yoda. You can check out his work at: http://tylerjacobson.blogspot.com/ and http://www.tylerjacobsonart.com/#portfolio
And when to my delight Tyler took on the project, I told him that what I wanted for the cover was a depiction of the prologue to the novel, which briefly can be summarized as….
The albino Mapuche shaman, Ñamku, is waiting on a mountain top for the setting of the sun, when he can take off the mask he wears, since daylight is too bright for him. Behind him, the sacred volcano, Lonkimai, is erupting. Before him in the distance is fucha lafken–the great sea, which we know as the Pacific. In his left hand he holds something which has been brought to him across the Atacama Desert. The messenger bringing this says white people have come from the sea, white people that are both warriors and sorcerers, white people who have killed many Inca. And now they are coming south, to Arauco. Ñamku wonders what the coming of these white men means to the Mapuche, and to him, the only white man he has ever known. And he wonders what the small object he holds might be, for it is in no way like anything Mapuche …. not knowing it is a crucifix. He waits for sunset, when he will meditate, and pray. Perhaps the ancestors will give him a vision of what is happening, and what is to be….