From concept to cover

I recently completed the cover for my upcoming novel, The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky. The daughter of the title is Kailani, a mysterious little girl, raised in deeply religious society, who sails into a purely secular world. Through the trials of its characters, the book explores the clash between reason and faith, and the redeeming power of hope and love.

But how do I show all this within the limits of a book cover? Working with an artist, I started with a single scene, midway through the story, when Kailani encounters the northern lights for the first time. Her reaction to this natural phenomenon contrasts with that of the more secular minded around her in a way that’s so beautifully stated by Albert Einstein in the quote at the beginning of the book:

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”


girl aurora small

In researching a new book, I become a bit of a pack rat. I accumulate scraps of this and that—anecdotes, quotes, snippets from books I’ve read, and images that trigger relevant ideas. In addition to sharing the northern lights chapter with the artist, I also sent her this image I found online, that aided in my thinking. Then she went off to do her thing.

Daughter eBook Cover After a few iterations, She came up with a concept that combined Kailani’s northern lights scene with the total concept of the book, tying together the little girl, the northern lights, and the sea and the sky. Here’s the result.

My skill is painting with words, not pictures. Manual arts was my one failing grade in elementary school. Seeing this image, I couldn’t be more pleased. The cover captures both the concept and mood of the book, and I can’t wait to hold the finished copy in my hands.

The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky will be available May 19, 2014.

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  1. Great stuff. It really turned out so well.

    • Hi Dave! Very interesting way of creating a cover. I like the way you collected images and shared them with Shelley, giving her an idea but allowing her creativity to come through. You may not be good at the “manual arts” but you are in weaving words!

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