Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Cover of Circle of Hurt

Circle of Hurt and Believing in a Grand Thing—joint launch 3/28 
With the launch date fast approaching, readers have questions. In the days before the launch, I will try to answer some of them. More questions will be welcome at the launch or through e-mail or social media.

What Can You Tell Us About the Covers on both books?

We worked diligently to come up with real photos that matched my description of the general store, the table and chairs, the ambiance of the place, but we just could not make it work. When we could not capture the right scene with a table and chairs inside the right kind of room, I decided a shack might work, with wooden boards as the background. 

Maybe we could find an old house that might come close to the description of the picker shack. The real picker shack was clearly in my mind, but it is long gone—swallowed up when they constructed Cooper Lake.  Jan suggested a drive around my old haunts in Delta County. Maybe we could find one that matched my memory. She drove so I could watch for one. 

We borrowed Granddaughter Taylor’s camera, since ours is very old. I recalled seeing an old shack near Charleston a few years back, but we couldn’t find it. Shacks I knew around Klondike were just too far gone for human habitation. As we drove by my cousin Marion’s cabin, Jan slowed and pulled over. 

She looked at me, smiled as if she had just had a revelation, and pointed to the cabin. “What about that one?”
A light bulb had switched on in her artistic head, but my bulb was still dim. Marion had been gone for two years, and that cabin contained a lot of fond memories. It’s in excellent shape, built by Marion and his sons-in-law only a few years ago when the original one burned. 

I shook my head. “That cabin is only a few years old. The picker shack would have been maybe a hundred years old when the novel takes place.” 

Jan smiled. “Yes, but wasn’t this one built to look old?”

She was right. Marion’s cabin was a cross between the picker shack in the book and Tee Jessup’s rented farmhouse. It could serve as either. And Marion would be pleased. My guess was that his family would be, too.
I wasn’t sure how it would all come together, but Jan’s enthusiasm was contagious. I knew she wouldn’t mind, but I texted Marion’s wife Pat to get her permission to drive on her property and take some pictures. She said sure and we pulled into the driveway I had traveled hundreds of times to visit Marion, play poker, or attend a family gathering. Memories washed over me with a warm glow. 

As Jan began taking photos of the exterior of the cabin, I caught her enthusiasm. This might work. We discovered the side door was open, but I was hesitant to go inside. Not because Pat might mind, but because of the memories. Sure enough, the table where we had weekly poker games looked ready for players. Besides poker, I had presented at least one program to a ladies’ club there. Of course, there had been many family gatherings. Tears wanted to come, but I held them at bay.

Jan took more photos of the table and chairs and I realized that this setting, the old jukebox and a few other things might have partially inspired the scenes inside the general store described in the book. After what seemed dozens of shots, I turned and saw Jan with her camera inches from the wall, snapping more photos. 

I was puzzled. “What are you doing?” 

She kept on clicking. “You said you wanted boards for the background, didn’t you?”

Days later, she showed me her concept, saying, “I feel as if I’m on the inside of the cozy cabin stealing a look at the story that is taking place outside.” 

That worked for me.

She and Vivian Freeman got together on the concept and colors and the rope and that’s how the cover of Circle of Hurt came to be. I like it a lot and I hope readers do, too.

More about the other book cover next.

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