Morrow Has Me Covered

February 11th, 2009

After all the soap opera surrounding the writing of Breathing Water (earlier referred to, in varying tones of despair, as Misdirection) I thought you might like to see the jacket that the amazingly talented people at William Morrow have come up with for it. Special thanks go to designer James Iacobelli and my editor, Peggy Hageman, who shepherded this through the process.

The drops of water will continue all the way around, meaning that there will be something eye-catching about the spine, which is often ignored in spite of the fact that most of the time, it’s what people see when a book is shelved for sale.  So here it is


The extremely generous quotation from Adrian McKinty, a writer I admire greatly, won’t be on the final hardcover jacket.  What you’re seeing here is the jacket of the ARC, or Advance Reader’s Copy, which is what the publisher sends to reviewers and others whose (hopefully positive) opinion might benefit the book.  A bunch of very good writers, including McKinty, Larry Beinhart, Andrew Gross, and Brett Battles, have also weighed in generously, and their quotes will be featured on the back cover and, perhaps, the front inside page.  This is all by way of suggesting to a reviewer that it might be worth opening this one.

I’d love to know what you all think.

18 Responses to “Morrow Has Me Covered”

  1. Thomas Says:


    I have a faint recollection of reading somewhere an explanation for your title Breathing Water but it’s not fresh in my mind at the moment. Could you please elaborate on where the title comes from and how it fits the story?

    The jacket design looks great. Colorful, wet, reminiscent of a monsoon summer day in Bangkok. Makes me long for a steaming bowl of Pad Thai, for some reason.

    I assume smarter people than me have thought this through, but why call it “A Bangkok Thriller” as opposed to just “A Thriller”? I would think anyone who enjoys a good thriller would enjoy this book, not just the ones interested in Bangkok. Or no?


  2. Lisa Kenney Says:

    Very eye catching! I like the water droplets and the colors.

  3. Suzanna Says:

    This really works Tim. The title, bold typeface, color, texture and abstract nature of the background give a sense of urgency. Nicely done.

  4. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, Thomas — The title comes from a speech given by Poke’s friend Arthit, a Bangkok cop, who’s trying to get Poke to understand the depth of the trouble he’s in:

    “Let me give you an image,” Arthit says. He picks up the coffee and drinks half of it at a gulp. “If it would clarify your situation to think about it visually, then imagine this: You’re at the bottom of the Chao Phraya, wandering around on the river bed without a map, and breathing water. You just haven’t realized it yet.” He erases the image with his palms. “No, actually, it’s more like this. You’re in the crevice of a deep canyon with very steep walls, and there are some enormous boulders directly above you. Let’s say the size of an apartment house. You’ve built a cute little straw roof to keep you dry, something a songbird could dent. These boulders can decide, any time they want, to roll down on top of you. For any reason. You go to the wrong place. You talk to the wrong person. You ask the wrong question. You go out too much. You stay home too much. You eat meat on Friday. They don’t like your socks. So they roll down on you and squash you to paste.”

    “Okay,” Rafferty says. “What’s the downside?”

    And there is a confirmed audience for what are called “exotics,” which is to say people who read mysteries set in interesting places, therefore the word, “Bangkok.”

    Lisa, thanks so much. I think the droplets are going to be spot-varnished so they reflect light, unless that idea falls victim to economizing in this down market.

  5. Dana King Says:

    Looks great. I second the above comments and I’m looking forward to reading it.

  6. Cynthia Mueller Says:

    Oooohhhh… made me wipe my hands on my jeans after reading it. And I feel a little sweaty.

    Two lines into Arthit’s speech and I slid right back into Poke’s world. Then I bumped into your explanation of “exotics” for Thomas, and realized I wasn’t actually reading your book–darn it! Do you have a release date yet?

  7. Jen Forbus Says:

    Tim, this is an awesome book cover. Not only is it reflective of the title, but I think it’s reflective of your writing style as well in that it really piques the senses.


  8. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Thanks to all. I really like it myself. And thanks to the people at Morrow, who shared it with me in the early stages and let me make suggestions. I used to tell people that the process of getting published was (1) Write your book; (2) Sell your book; (3) Hate your cover. That has emphatically not been the case at Morrow.

    Suzanna, thanks for the support. I think the design suggests urgency somehow, although I can’t say exactly how.

    Dana, thanks as always. You’ll be getting an ARC in May, and I only hope you like the book as much as you like the cover.

    Cynthia, I’m very happy it made you sweaty, although perhaps we should discuss it privately. And thanks for slipping so easily into Poke’s world. The book will hit stores in mid-August and have its official pub date early in September.

    And thanks, Jen — let’s just hope that it has a similar appeal for a couple of hundred thousand bookstore patrons.

    I actually have to say that I like this book a lot. I’m proud of it, and I usually don’t go that far. Hope all of you like it, too.

  9. Sylvia Says:

    How exciting! I think it looks great and it’s so intriguing to hear the details of what goes into the ARC.

    Mid-August? That’s miles away 🙁

  10. Chester Campbell Says:

    Great cover, Tim. I like the plain unserif type that doesn’t clash with the art. Colors are striking, too. Sounds like poor old Poke is really in for it this time.

  11. Thomas Says:

    Mr. Campbell,

    Please allow me to express my curiosity in your books, after seeing your post above. I’m sure Tim doesn’t mind my using his blog space for this. I read your post and thought, “I wonder if someone other than a writer would speak of an unserif type?” So, of course, I had to click on your name, which took me to your website. Long story short, what I found was a list of titles about Nashville PI’s (I didn’t know they existed), written by a guy in his golden years (if you pardon my expression), who has family in Atlanta (my address). Now, that is a winning combination. Thus far I have only peeked at the first chapter excerpts you have on your website, but I may have to go a bit farther than that.

    Anyway, just wanted to let you know.

    Thomas from Atlanta

  12. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Thank you, Chester, and Poke is in some very, very deep . . . ummm . . . well, you know. The original title type was hand-drawn and intentionally sloppy, with a small drip of paint off one of the letters, and I remarked that while I thought it was striking, I didn’t see how handwritten English related to the rest of the design, and they came up with this, which I like very much.

    Thomas, Chester is a terrific writer and his new series, featuring Sid Chance, opens with THE SUREST POISON, which I was fortunate enough to read in advance. Great stuff, and extremely timely.

    Sylvia, the Morrow people have gone far, far out of their way to make something special with this ARC and the whole ramp-up to the book’s release. And August isn’t THAT far off. (But thanks for saying that it feels as though it were.)

  13. Maureen Says:

    I love the ARC cover, too. Maybe I can get them to give me a copy.

    I already know what kind of trouble Poke’s in. The rest of you will just have to wait.

    Hi, Tim. I’ve taken your advice and started reading the creativity series. It’s wonderful. Thank you for mentioning it to me. I’ve been needing a kick in the tuk-tuk, and this just might be it.

  14. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Maureen is my redoubtable copy editor, who saves my butt with every book. Next Wednesday, in fact, I’m going to blog about her edit, which was (as always) an adventure in discovering exactly how smart I’m not.

    I’d love to take credit for the creativity series, Maureen, but I didn’t do anything but invite submissions and then sequence them according to some principle I couldn’t articulate if I had to.

    Oh, and Maureen, I completely changed the ending. The butler DID do it.

  15. Maureen Says:

    Now I’m worried. Do I at least get to edit the blog beforehand?

    I think everyone here knows exactly how smart you ARE. I’m just the girl with the feather duster who walks through the scene. And proud to do so.

    Too bad about the butler, though. I really liked the original Dick Cheney ending.

  16. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Maureen, you should be worried. All the dirty little secrets of copy editing — comma proliferation! long narrow rectangles in the right-hand margin, filled with type that would be best red with an electron microscope! Persistent questions about the ages of characters! All of it, do you hear? It’ll all be revealed.

    and no you cant edit it because im going to write it archy and mehitabel style with no commas at all.

    The “Dick Cheney” character just wasn’t believable, even after I gave him the German accent. Nobody in real life could be like that.

  17. usman Says:

    Late as usual to the party. Just back from Singapore and bkk. Still travelling though.
    Great cover and I love the qoute from the book.
    Browsed Singapore Borders for your book. Couldnt find any.

  18. Ken H. Says:

    I like the cover a lot. It feels like Asia. Can’t wait to read it!

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