I’ve been looking forward to attending the Left Coast Crime convention in Denver (March 6 – 9), for the opportunity to hook up with old friends—especially the great group of people I met in Anchorage at Bouchercon—and to make new ones.
This week, I found out that I have another reason to anticipate the event: SILENT COUNSEL has been short-listed for the Arty Award—an award given for best cover art for a mystery published in 2007!
I must give credit where credit is due, to my wife, Sylvia. I’ve learned that authors rarely have much say in what the cover of their book is to look like, and that it’s usually the publisher’s province. I was lucky in that my publisher, Windermere Press, allowed me to voice my preferences. When I turned to Sylvia for her thoughts, she told me that the first time she read the story, she envisioned what the cover ought to be.
She described a house, with a long stairway leading up to the front porch. She described the dark night, and the house’s almost haunting appearance. She explained the symbolism: It is the house in which the Altman family lives—the family that loses six-year-old Ben to a tragic hit-and-run. It’s a house that’s deeply affected by the horrible occurrence—lives torn apart and emotions ripped bare. A house that in the bright of day might be a joyful place, but in the darkness is a place of sadness.
We turned that idea over to the publisher, and they put their designer to work. When we saw the first treatment, Sylvia said: “Almost. But it needs a full moon. Everyone’s eye will be drawn in by the full moon.” The moon was added, and I have to tell you that nearly everyone who comments on the cover says something about that moon.
I think the final product, the cover that made it to press, does precisely what Sylvia first conceptualized. The cover depicts an almost desolate scene. A house in isolation, dark, with no sign of activity within. It mirrors perfectly the desperation and loneliness that Stacy Altman experiences in her battle against the legal system as her story unfolds.
And Sylvia saw it from the start. I’m honored that the cover of SILENT COUNSEL is getting the attention that it is, and it’s with Sylvia that I share that honor.