Saturday, 29 August 2015

Part 2 in my 'Behind the scenes' series - today featuring The Black Rose #RPBP

Welcome to the behind the scenes series from the Rukia featured authors. Today we welcome back The Black Rose for part two of the making of The Yugoslavian.
If you missed part one you can find it here

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The Making of The Yugoslavian – Part Two

In Search of the Perfect Cover Photo

Here we go, this was a challenge. I started laying out book covers back in 1995. I tried images that looked like postcards, searched the Internet for images to purchase, created a plain cover…nothing quite fit the story. In 2012, when I gave myself a deadline to publish the story, I again started searching for the perfect cover photo. It had to be a photograph that captured the mood of the novel. Unlike my other series, The Killing Game Series, which is more of a dark drama, this story always gave me a sense of the color gray or blue.

Again, I searched online. The years made a difference on what could be purchased from stock photo companies. I searched, but nothing was right. Being a photographer, I almost always have some form of a camera in my possession. In the morning when I’m out in the yard with my pup, I’m usually photographing her. (Last count was about 8 years ago and I had a little over 17,000 photographs of her. I can only imagine how many I’ve taken since.) The view from the yard is spectacular, especially in winter. I had spent a good deal of time photographing the woods and I was intrigued by the trees across the lake approximately half a mile away. I spent several days the winter of 2013 capturing images. I transferred the photographs to my computer, not actually examining them because I could take 100 or so in any one session.

Spring came and I thought perhaps a cemetery would give me the atmosphere I sought. I wrote to two of the larger historic cemeteries just outside of Manhattan, gained permission to photograph there and found several worthy statues. Even with the fabulous shots I took, the cover wasn’t coming from that session.

Typically the way I photograph is shooting a series of the very same subject, changing lighting, angle, etc. Most of the time I will do what I call a sweep, using the motor drive at high speed to reduce blur when not using a tripod. That sometimes provides hundreds of photographs to examine and look through. That is time-consuming, but a valuable practice because each millisecond the light changes and the captured essence in one shot may not have been in the shot before or just after.

I went back and began reviewing all the winter shots I had and there were three photographs, taken in succession, of three different locations of the trees across the lake all on February 11, 2013. The first was taken at 1:00 pm, the second at 1:02 pm, and the third at 1:03 pm.

Nothing was taken in between. The time lapse was me moving from one location to the next. Three individual scenes, all beautiful and secretive. My goal was to see the trees across the lake while simultaneously creating a mystery as if someone is looking through binoculars or perhaps a rifle scope. Someone who is hiding, someone who doesn’t want to be seen. The winner was obvious. After manipulating the color to bring out the blue emotion, the end result was:

After changing the hue, finding the right lightness and adding the text, the front cover was perfect for the story. This is the final product.

Quite often I get scolded for obscuring my name. But the story is about the characters, even if my heart and soul are behind each and every word. Writing is an art. Once you have committed your story to paper, finding the perfect image to reflect what your heart has transcribed is sometimes the hardest part of the entire writing process. It is said,“You can’t judge a book by its cover.” They’re right. Just as you can’t judge a book by its title (another thing I hear about from people). Yet it is true. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And even if everyone doesn’t see the wintery mystery of someone spying through the trees in this cover, my heart is content in knowing no other image could take its place.

In the end, the perfect cover photograph was right in my backyard…

If you would like to connect with The Black Rose or see more of her photography or get a copy of The Yugoslavian here are the links you need: (Amazon) (Barnes & Noble)
Amazon look inside feature
The Yugoslavian page from
The soundtrack to The Yugoslavian
Book Trailer The Wanted Man
Tess Travel Journal YouTube