When I finished my first novel Walland a couple of years ago, and shifted my attention to creating the cover, there was no question about which of my own images I’d use. The boathouse is a place I photographed over and over many years ago. It’s a real place, in East Tennessee; one I’ve visited several times. When I saw my photograph as that first cover, it felt right. It was inviting readers into a world where things happen slowly; leisurely; and with great purpose. A place a person can exhale and feel at peace. A spot to revisit again and again.
For my second book, Seeds of Intention, I didn’t have a particular image in mind, but I had a general idea of what I wanted. I flew to Aspen, Colorado the day after Christmas with my best friend, and we set about waiting for inspiration to strike. I thought for sure it would happen on a remote snowmobile trip up to Maroon Bells, but was disappointed to find that even though I’d captured some amazing shots on our ride, none of them were just right for the cover. My friend Lisa suggested that we go for a walk that afternoon to clear my mind and shake the funk of disappointment, so we headed over to Hunter Creek Trail, one of my favorites in the area. It was snow-packed and slippery, so we had to stop quite often to rest. On one of our breaks, I looked up, and was rewarded with the cover shot; the late-afternoon, winter-sun-kissed tops of a grove of old Aspen trees. I knew I had it before I even took the lens off of my camera. The characters in Seeds of Intention are more introspective, and called for a cooler-toned but still welcoming cover.
House of Belonging is the third and final book in my Hesse Creek Series, which meant the cover had to check several boxes. It had to look like a part of the series. It had to have resonant color tones. Frankly, it had to live up to the first two covers, which were my babies. Initially I was planning to use a photograph of a gorgeous succulent plant that I took last summer in California. The colors were perfect, and to me the image was a beautiful metaphor for the female character in my story; she’s tough and resilient, but she’s soft and feminine at the same time. Once we were in production however, the image wasn’t working. My editors and cover designer said the same thing; I needed an image that invited the reader in. It had become a hallmark of the series, and I’ve always said that my locations are as much characters in my books as the actual people are. With their advice ringing in my ears, I went back through my extensive photo collection, hoping I’d find the perfect image.
I love this shot we used on the cover of House of Belonging. When I see it, I feel like I’ve come full-circle as both a writer and a photographer. It’s an older shot from a place that will always be special to me. A place where I can breathe deeply. A place to reconnect with nature and myself. A peaceful place where I feel a sense of belonging.
I hope readers will feel the same way.