When I signed my contract with Minotaur for the first three books in the Shinobi Mystery series, I accepted that my cover art was out of my control. And I made a decision:
Whatever my cover looked like, I would love it.
Many authors compare their books to children, and seeing my cover art bore many resemblances to the birth of my son. I didn’t know what my son would look like (in fact, I only learned his gender a week and a half before his birth) but I knew–without question–that I would love him, no matter how funny-looking other people might find his face. (As it turns out, he’s very handsome–but it wouldn’t have mattered to me.)
I made the same decision about my book.
Whatever it looked like, I would love it.
I told myself this over and over … and yet, some fear remained. Would I love it the moment I saw it, or would I have to learn to love? Would the emotion be instantaneous, like holding my son in my arms? Or would it come slowly, like learning to drink my coffee without added sugar?
I didn’t know.
I did know that series covers often share a style or a vibe, and that the cover of Claws of the Cat would set a pattern. The subsequent covers might or might not look similar – but whether or not that happened, I knew the first one would set the tone.
My fabulous editor sent me a concept sketch before the photo shoot for my cover. I was hooked from the moment I saw it. Minotaur’s decision to feature the neko-te – a weapon favored by female ninjas (“kunoichi,” in Japanese) delighted me beyond measure. For the record, the English translation of “neko-te” is “claws of the cat” – and that isn’t coincidental.
I loved my “baby’s” face immediately and completely.
I carried my iPad into my husband’s office at once to show him my beautiful cover art. He took one look at me, in tears, and thought someone had died. (In fairness, the last time he’d seen tears in my eyes was several years before–and someone HAD died, so it wasn’t an altogether unreasonable assumption. Shows you how often I cry.)
One extra secret I haven’t shared about my cover before: my father died six months before I started writing Claws of the Cat. He knew about my passion for fiction, and writing, but did not live to see my work in print. In addition to books (he loved mysteries) and sailing, my father’s great passion was raising roses and also cymbidium orchids. Among the orchids, his favorite ones were green with reddish-brown spots at the center … exactly like the orchids which appear on the cover of Claws of the Cat. Orchids which didn’t appear in the concept sketch my publisher sent me.
It was the orchids that made me cry when I saw it, because they fit the cover perfectly and also because they remind me of my father.
He would have loved the cover as much as I do.
Have you ever had a cover remind you of something important, or something you love? I’d love to hear your story in the comments.