I had ideas for a special, wow-inducing reveal of the cover design for my novel, Where You Will Die, due out in late September.
I thought of revealing it in jigsaw pieces over a dozen blog posts, or behind an array of doors like an advent calendar. I've seen other authors post several designs and ask their readers to vote on their favorite, and others not let the image be seen until the release date.
But that all went by the wayside after sending out a dozen Advance Reader Copies of the paperback to friends and family. They posted photos of it on Facebook, and I figured the cat was out of the bag.
So here it is! (*Trumpets*)
I was very lucky to find Mark Thomas of Coverness.com, who worked closely with me on this simple but effective design that evokes the sunlight and pines of the setting, Eden Ridge.
The town, modeled after Paradise, California as it was before the 2018 Camp Fire, is very much a character in the story. The protagonist, Alan Wright, moves there from Los Angeles after the sudden death of his wife, to build his dream - a spiritual center called The House of the Universal Message. He is also there to heal his broken heart, and the tiny town is just the place for it. The story is set in late spring, when the sun is bright, the skies almost cloudless, and the arid foothills are green with pine and oak and alive with wildflowers.
As Alan struggles, chapter after chapter, to find out why his beloved new friend Ruth MacKenzie was killed, the green and shaded acres of Eden Ridge try - but fail - to ease his troubled mind. The sunlight beaming through the branches is warm and welcoming, the scent of pine invigorating, the birdsong calls out to lift his spirit, but the terrible tragedy of Ruth's fate weighs on his soul. He doesn't see, or feel, or smell or hear the beauty around him. Only after the terrible crime is revealed, and the guilty are behind bars, is Alan able to allow the siren song of the green and fragrant foothills to touch him and offer healing.
It was an accident, in some ways, that Eden Ridge took on this role as an active character. But once I realized the impact, I couldn't resist injecting its influence into crucial scenes. I felt blessed to be given such a beautiful and poignant theme in the story. Throughout the book, Eden Ridge acts like a lover who waits for Alan to return to her after his long, dark journey.
This was the Paradise my wife and I knew and loved back then, and though I didn't mean to write a eulogy, the many descriptions in the book read like one, now that the old Paradise is gone. A new Paradise is being rebuilt, and I am confident it will be a great place to live and the pines and oaks and manzanita will regrow with time. But before that tragic day, it was as I describe Eden Ridge: a forest where people made their homes, not a town with a lot of trees.
The interior design of a book is also very important, and here Mark also did a stellar job. A clear, readable font of the right size and spaced/kerned well makes all the difference, so that one can read the text without difficulty. If you are bothered by how the pages are laid out, you can't get into the story, and I think this is one of the best layouts I've ever seen. His design for the e-book is beautiful too, but readers can change fonts and margins and such in digital copies to accommodate their own preference. That's all well and good, and I love reading e-books; But I'm of an age and a time that makes me appreciate the artistry of a bound book. I'm lucky to have engaged a true professional who could elevate mine to that level.
Here are a couple of the photos I found on Facebook that led me to give up on secret plans and just reveal the cover.
First, from my friend Sabrina, reading it while she commutes by ferry to her work:
Next, my friend Tina is ready to open it at home on her reading desk:
Here's a final reveal (for what it's worth) - September 25 is the launch date. It will be available exclusively on Amazon for the time being, and I'll offer a special pre-order price on the e-book, so watch for future announcements.
My sincere and heartfelt thanks to all the good people who have agreed to give my debut novel a read. It's been a long journey, difficult at times, but always rewarding. The work is the cake, and getting it into people's hands is the icing.
If you'd like to receive early notices about the publication of Where You Will Die along with pre-sales and special offers come publication day, please visit my site to learn more about the book and sign up to get email notices.