My first dog was a Golden Retriever. I got her when I was twenty-eight years old, not long after I bought my house. She could spend hours hunting flies. I often took her down to the nearby Mackinaw River because she was one of those glorious dogs that never wandered far from its owner’s line-of-sight. I could sit with my legs in the water and not worry that she would run off and get hopelessly lost in the brush, or run out onto the road. Sometimes I would go swimming or take photographs while she stalked those elusive flies, her feathery tail lashing back and forth, translucent beads of water sweeping the air. Other times I would listen to my headphones or simply lay on a sandbar and watch the clouds pass by, the sounds of her happy panting a comforting background to my daydreaming.
It was during one of those trips to the Mackinaw with my Golden Retriever that I photographed the cover for Clingstone. I didn’t know it at the time, of course. At the time, its staging had nothing whatsoever to do with my book. I was experimenting with the new camera I’d bought and planned to frame some of the photographs as artwork. It was only much later that I came across that particular photograph again and realized it flawlessly represented the scene in which Mae’s bonnet flower is torn away (well, maybe not flawlessly—it’s actually a Gerber daisy, and not a common daisy, but I cheerfully allowed myself the inaccuracy because the staging was otherwise picture-perfect).
Additionally, I wanted my book cover to contrast with all the other romance novel covers out there. I don’t mean that to sound disparaging. I love the many gorgeous covers gracing romance novels right now, especially the ones with the heroines in their stunning dresses, but they tend to run together when viewed collectively. I think the simplicity of my cover with its sepia photograph and calm green background catches the eye. I love the font, how it almost looks etched or carved because of its distinctive serifs. In hindsight, I’m becoming more and more grateful that a literary agent or publisher never picked up my book. I don’t know how much creative input I would have been allowed with the cover art, but self-publishing has freed me from any potential constraints.
And so a Golden Retriever’s love of the water, and my love of photographing nature inevitably produced the cover of Clingstone. Below are several other photographs I took on that long-ago day down at the river.
Copyright © 2016-2017 Marti Ziegler