Author Photos

I just got a look at the author photo on the back of Stephen King’s latest, Cell.

He looks dead.

What’s the worst author photo you’ve ever seen? On a book, preferably.

I mean, it’s Stephen King we’re talking about here. He looks like a gargoyle on his best days.

Now compare:
Chuck Palahniuk, on the back of Lullaby, looking all Iggy Pop style badass

Chuck Palahniuk, on the back of Fight Club, rocking the 1980’s suburban dad haircut.

Which is probably not the kind of look Chuckie P wants to convey.

Sweet crackers…I knew I was gonna do that.

This is the second picture.

That one doesn’t work either.

Maybe this is the photo you’re thinking of.

For some reason, he reminds me of Kevin Spacey.

Harry Crews has some marvelous ones. I remember one from when he was younger - was on more than one book - where he was leaning in a decrepit doorway looking like a character from one of his books.
I’m always partial to authors who have dogs in their shots. Jim Harrison comes to mind.

The inside back cover of the paperback edition of Peter Straub’s Magic Terror has a horrid photo of Straub. He’s not the most photogenic guy in the best of circumstances, but this particular photo makes him look like a cross between Quasimodo and Wallace Shawn.

No, that’s not the one. That’s bad too, but maybe this is worse. . (crosses fingers)

None of the photos of Palahniuk are “bad.” He ages, we all age. I’m not sure if you’re referring to his haircut or not, but, honestly, most of us consciously or unconsciously cut our hair to more or less the prevailing style of the day in which we live. Is he married? In my case, I have a wife who nudges me toward the barbershop when I start trying to go “all 70s.”

David Crosby (and a few others) are the exception.

Or did you mean that his look doesn’t jibe with the look we imagine when we read his prose?

Sir Rhosis


And since that was on the back of his debut book and he’s never looked like that in any other picture I’ve seen of him, I’d consider that a bad picture and one that doesn’t jive with his writing. Maybe that’s not the OP was talking about, but it was the first author that popped into my head.

The author photos that give me the biggest laugh are Dean Koontz’s. For years, his photos showed him as balding with a thick mustache. Then, in the blink of an eye, his next book showed him clean-shaven with a thick head of very fake looking hair. Who the HELL did he think he was fooling???

Without a doubt, Jack Chalker’s on the back cover of Dance Band on the Titanic.

You look at the cover, and you see this guy with white hair and a white, neatly trimmed beard, sitting at a typewriter, surrounded by tiny weird SF and Fantasy figures, and you think “Oh, cute, another one of those covers showing the writer at work, bedeviled by his creations.”

Then you turn to the back cover, and there’s this notice:

"THe picture on the cover isn’t me. It’s Darrell. K. Sweet, who does a lot of the cover illustrations for my books.

Why didn’t we use a picture of me? This is why:"

And there’s a picture of an obscenely scowling , downright unfriendly looking author. I don’t think he was being deliberately bad-looking. I think Jack Chalker was just unphotogenic. I’ve seen him in person, and he did look like that. I can even attest that he was capable of smiling, but I’m not sure it would’ve helped.

Here, by the way, is a picture of him. It’s a lot nicver than the one on the back of Dance Band, but still not cuddly: