Did you know what you wanted the cover to look like when you started the design process?
Since THE CAVERNS is a romantic thriller that uses caverns as a setting, I wanted something dark and ominous. That I found a stock photo with a cavern, a back light, and a man’s silhouette was a stroke of luck.
What kinds of questions did your cover designer ask before he/she began working?
I had taken a cover design course to sharpen my design skills so I had an idea of what I wanted on the cover front (and back for the paperback) and what fonts worked well on covers and back copy.
How many revisions did you ask for before you were satisfied with the result?
I did probably four revisions before I was satisfied.
Were you happy with the artwork that was used to create the final cover?
I loved the stock photo that I found for the cover. It took very little “doctoring” to make it right, as it was a horizontal shot. I darkened the silhouette of the man so that no features or clothing stood out. Although there is a strong heroine in the book, I made the decision not to clutter the cover by superimposing another figure.
Would you change anything about your cover if you could?
Not at this time. I’m satisfied with it and have gotten good feedback.
Did you look to see what other authors were doing before you chose your design elements?
Yes, I always notice covers and the elements I like and don’t like about them.
If this book is part of a series, how did you convey that on the cover?
It is a part of The Tennessee Mountain Home Series, which is included on the cover underneath every instance of the title and also on the spine. Getting that much text on the spine was a challenge.
What made you decide to (or not to) feature the hero and/or heroine on the cover?
THE CAVERNS is the first book in a series with the same hero and heroine. This book is Cade’s book, so I put the silhouette of a man on the cover. The second book, THE VALLEY, will belong to the heroine Scottie. I have that cover designed, and it has no person on it at all. I might decide to include Scottie on the cover before time comes to release the book. That decision hasn’t been made yet.
How much did the mood of your story affect your design choices?
Very much. I wanted the dark, brooding atmosphere of the caverns to be evident on the cover. The hero is also a bit dark and brooding, so that fit his personality, too.
Would you make your covers yourself if you were able?
I hired an artist for my first self-pubbed book ROSES FOR CHLOE because it had been several years since I did any cover design work and needed time to refresh my skills. I was happy with the cover she designed, but wanted to do my own in the future as I really enjoy design work.
What do you think of the fonts on your cover? How do they add to the overall design?
I chose the fonts after taking a short course on designing covers. They were actually fonts I probably never would have considered otherwise. The serif and sans serif fonts play off one another on the front and back. The style of the front cover is also carried through to the interior title page of the book. I took the colors of the fonts from the cover art.
Have you ever changed the cover of this book? Of another book? Why did you make the switch? Do you feel it was beneficial?
I have not changed the cover of this book. However, ROSES FOR CHLOE was originally a Berkley-Jove Haunting Hearts novel and since I did not own the right to reuse their cover (I do actually own the original oil painting–but the right to use the cover is not conveyed to the owner, it remains with the artist and also with Berkley) I had to have a new cover. The artist used a photo that I owned of the window of the plantation that was the setting for the book and superimposed the ghost in the red dress over it.
If your book was traditionally published (versus indie published), how much say did you have in the cover design process? Would you make changes to the cover if you could?
When I wrote for Harlequin Superromance, I had to fill out an art fact sheet that included a lot of information from the book. While I liked two out of three of the covers that were generated for those books, I had very little say so about any changes I wanted. That’s another reason I really like doing my own.
Cover art copyright © 08-03-07 Rob Broek
Finding that her imaginary realms were as much or more exciting than the real world, Elaine always wanted to write books and illustrate them (illustrating yet to come!).
Her first novel ROSES FOR CHLOE was a RITA Finalist, a Holt Medallion Finalist, and NONA Finalist. MAKE BELIEVE MOM, her first Harlequin Superromance, was a RITA Finalist and a Waldenbooks Bestseller.
After living over thirty-five years in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she finally moved to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where she has inspiring mountain views all around, but doesn’t have to worry about getting up and down them in the winter!
Blurb and Excerpt
HOW FAR INTO THE DARKNESS WOULD YOU GO TO FIND THE TRUTH?
To clear his name, a convicted murderer joins forces with his former lover to solve a decades old murder.
Seventeen years after being convicted of murder, Cade Youngblood returns to his hometown to bury his beloved great uncle. Still the pariah of Cumberland Cove, Tennessee, Cade has more reason than ever to clear his name, but somebody is willing to kill to protect a shocking secret.
CUMBERLAND COVE, TENNESSEE
Officer Scottie Townsend down-shifted the Crown Victoria to save the brakes as she threaded it along the twisting mountain road leading into Cumberland Cove. Fingers of early morning mist stretched toward the pale sky above the Smoky Mountains, making it difficult to discern where the mountaintops ended and heaven began. Last night’s deluge had passed on toward North Carolina, leaving the mountain air rarefied and clean.
Low-level static crackled over the squad car’s radio in raucous cadence with the dispatcher’s voice. The dashboard clock showed a few minutes before six a.m., her twelve-hour shift almost over. Working her way back to the station to do paperwork, Scottie listened for anything that might be of interest to her. Cumberland Cove was a quiet little town on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the general order of business was occasional petty theft or minor domestic violence.
After five years on the force, Scottie remained the only female patrol officer in the Cumberland Cove Police Department, the position hard-won over several young men who thought they deserved it by right of maleness. She didn’t kid herself that having a woman on the force bolstered the department’s minority numbers, but with her former experience on the Atlanta PD, she knew she was as qualified as the others and had no qualms about taking the job.
The crackling sound of the dispatcher’s voice broke through. “Raising one-eleven. Raising one-eleven. Over.”
Scottie acknowledged the call.
“Morning, Scottie. Report of a suspicious vehicle on Caverns Lane off the Old Knoxville Road. The resident who lives across the highway saw a black SUV turn in sometime after midnight, and it never came out. She claims that road’s posted and nobody lives there. Over.”
“I’m on it. Over.”
Scottie U-turned at the next scenic overlook and headed back up the mountain. Large “NO TRESPASSING” signs were nailed to trees on both sides of a graveled road that ended at the entrance to the long-barricaded Cumberland Caverns. Overhead, the still-barren limbs entwined like fingers playing a favorite children’s game.
“Here’s the church and here’s the steeple, open the doors and see all the people,” Scottie murmured softly.
She knew this road well though she had not traveled it recently. A left-hand fork just ahead led to an old mountain cabin, which had not been used in years. She skipped the side road for the moment to circle the cruiser in the overgrown clearing at the entrance to the caverns. The padlock was secure on the door of the lean-to that guarded the opening of the main cave. She backtracked and turned off the graveled road toward the cabin. Wide, deep tire tracks cut into the rain-soaked dirt. Scottie slowed the cruiser, approaching cautiously, even though she was pretty sure who she would find. As the underbrush cleared, she spotted a late-model black Range Rover with a Georgia dealer plate parked in front. The driver was slumped in the seat, profile blurred by the dewy condensation on the window. As a precaution, she called in the license number on the SUV.
A couple of minutes later, the dispatcher returned. “It’s registered to Peach State Enterprises, a conglomerate of car dealerships in Atlanta. Do you want backup?”
“Not yet. You might have Jimmy float this way just in case. I’ll call if I need him.” She clicked off and made a visual assessment of the immediate area. Nothing suspicious. The cabin door appeared locked and secure. Scottie eased from behind the wheel and slowly approached, laying a hand lightly on the Glock service pistol holstered on her belt.
She tapped on the window. Immediately, the man stirred and jerked upright. Scottie stepped back as the driver’s door opened. She thumbed the holster release, just in case, and tightened her grip on her weapon.
Shading his eyes from the rising sun, the man eased out of the SUV, standing a good six feet tall, broad shouldered and well built. Black cashmere sweater, soft black leather jacket over jeans, expensive driving boots. Range Rover. Not your usual bum, anyway. Besides, she knew who he was even after all these years.
“What did I do, Officer?” He scrutinized her badge. “Townsend?” His sleep-hoarse voice, tinged with a trace of Southern accent, struck a long-silent chord in Scottie.
“We received a trespassing report,” she said.
A stubbly beard shadowed the chiseled face that used to turn the head of every teenage girl, and some of the women, in Cumberland Cove. He lowered his hand from his brow, and she stared into those familiar, brilliant-blue, come-hither eyes that could steal a woman’s soul. That had once stolen hers. He glanced at her hand still on her gun.
“Do you shoot people for trespassing around here now?”
“Ordinarily not. But you could call these extraordinary circumstances.”
A slight twist of Cade’s lips might have passed for a smile.
“Never thought I’d see you in a cop uniform, Scottie,” he said, studying her face with an inscrutable stare that put her on edge. No sign of the wide grin that used to split his face whenever he saw her; instead, an impassive look about his eyes and the set of his mouth turned him into a stranger. “I guess some things change over the years.”
“And some don’t.”
Things like destroyed futures, a young girl’s life taken too soon that could never be given back. What Scottie wanted to say, she couldn’t, so she retreated to neutral ground. “So I guess you’ll claim you’re not trespassing.”
“This is my property from my grandfather. Always has been. You knew that.” Cade crossed his arms and leaned against the Range Rover, still staring at her as if he could read her mind.
“I had to check out the report regardless. Most people probably assume it belongs to Silas.” Scottie caught herself. “I’m so sorry about your uncle, Cade. I…I would have called you, but it happened while I was off duty. By the time I reached Trish, she said she’d already asked Rickey to get in touch with you.”
Cade took a halting breath, the first hint of emotion he’d displayed. “What happened, Scottie? Have you found out who hit him?”
“No, not when I came on duty, anyway. Rickey’s on it.”
Cade ran his fingers through his dark, tousled hair and gave her a cynical look. “You know that gives me a lot of confidence, don’t you?”
“Rickey’s a good detective.”
“He must have improved a hell of a lot, then.”
Scottie saw no point in going there. “You drove all the way from Texas?”
“I hitched a ride on a corporate helicopter and picked up a car in Atlanta. Rickey tried to talk me out of coming.”
If any softness remained inside of this man, he kept it well hidden. His eyes held an edge of tempered steel, and his lips looked cold and hard as stone.
Determined not to be intimidated, Scottie said, “We have a motel or two now. You didn’t have to sleep in your vehicle.”
“I only got here a few hours ago. Besides, I like it out here.”
“Always on the fringe,” Scottie said before she thought.
Cade’s voice lowered to a rumble. “From the look on your face, I guess you agree with Rickey. I shouldn’t come home, even to bury my uncle.”
An uneasy feeling squirmed in her stomach. “It’s going to be hard for everybody, including you.”
“Hard?” Cade gave a short grunt. “Darling, I doubt you know the meaning of the word. I’m here to do what has to be done—to take care of business. And to see that the Cumberland Cove Police Department does the same. Whoever doesn’t like it can go to hell.”
The undisguised vitriol in his voice rankled Scottie, but not as much as his insinuation. He didn’t have a clue what she’d been through in the past seventeen years. At least he would be gone in a few days, and hopefully she’d never see him again.
“I finalized the funeral preparations on the phone,” he said when she didn’t respond. “Uncle Silas had prearranged most of the details with the funeral home years ago. He wanted to be brought home for the wake, and I agreed. I guess I should tell Trish, for whatever it’s worth. Does she still live with Johanna?”
“She does…but Cade, go easy on her. She doesn’t cope very well. When I talked to her yesterday, she sounded a little out of it again. Silas’s death threw her for a major loop.”
Cade gave her an inquisitive frown. “Out of it? What does that mean?”
“She takes prescription drugs off and on. Antidepressants and tranquilizers. She’ll be okay for a while, then something upsets her, and she’ll hit the tranquilizers pretty hard. She never was the same after you were—were gone so soon after your father died.”
“Are you trying to dump my sister’s emotional problems on me, too?” Cade shoved his fists in his jacket pockets and muttered, “Maybe Johanna had something to do with it?”
“Probably Johanna tried to do what was best for Trish under the circumstances.”
Cade’s glare ate into her like acid. “I never heard a word from any of them after I went to prison, and they were the only family I had left, other than Uncle Silas. I do blame her.”
“Johanna didn’t want Trish to know what was happening to you. She was trying to help the child get on with her life.”
“Sure she was. Even after I was released, she wouldn’t let me talk to Trish on the phone or come to see her. She cut me off from my sister, made it clear there was no reason for me to come back here. If it hadn’t been for Uncle Silas—” Cade’s lips cut an inflexible line into a tanned and hardened countenance. “Don’t worry about it. It’s my problem.”
Scottie studied his face, ravaged from lack of sleep. Exhaustion clouded his eyes, and deep within, before he shut her out, she glimpsed a restless, haunted look. He was walking into the lion’s den alone, and they both knew it.
Regardless of what had happened in their adult lives, she and Cade had shared a pure and innocent love as young children and later as teens…but those days were long past, and nothing would ever be the same.
“Are you planning to stay out here? I’ll notify the dispatcher so you won’t be reported again.”
Cade glanced at the barred and shuttered cabin and shook his head. “No, I have a key to Uncle Silas’s house.”
Cade reached out to touch her badge. Scottie flinched, but she held her ground. “S. Townsend. Not Thomas anymore. Obviously married.”
“I’m widowed. Almost five years now. That’s why I moved home.”
He nodded slightly but offered no condolences. Why had she expected that he would? The face was familiar, but this was not the same Cade who had left Cumberland Cove as a teenager. Prison changed a man. She’d been in law enforcement long enough to know that.
And after all that had happened, there would be nothing left of what they’d once had together. Best not to rip open old wounds and leave them bleeding long after Cade was gone again.
“I need to get back on patrol. What time is visitation?”
“Four until seven this evening.”
“I’ll come by.”
Cade nodded. “Can you give me Trish’s number before you go?”
“You give me yours, and I’ll have her call you,” she countered.
“Figures,” Cade muttered. He handed her a couple of business cards from his wallet. “Give one to her, and keep one in case you need to get in touch with me. My cell number’s on there.”
Cade eased behind the wheel of the Range Rover and waited until Scottie turned around in the clearing, then followed her to the main highway. She went one direction; he went the other.