When you’re ready to publish your novel, choosing an image for the cover is no small feat—especially when the story is literary and explores a variety of themes. I faced that challenge when preparing The Last Hoffman for publication. Here’s a peek at my journey to selecting an image.
The Last Hoffman is a tale of sacrifice, betrayal and desolation that begins in 1950’s and ends thirty years later in a floundering papermill town where an awkward widower and a young mother band together to overcome their tragic pasts. A lot of the conflict in the story centres around water, so at first I thought of a waterfall image on the cover. I soon decided that a waterfall wouldn’t give a strong indicator of the dilemmas, or the inner and outer journeys of the characters. Reluctant to show pictures of people, because I preferred that the reader imagine their own version the Hoffman and King families and the secondary characters.
Then I turned back to my title The Last Hoffman. And I thought worn baby shoes. I’m fortunate to have a fine artist in the family—Zach Atticus. We could not find suitable baby shoe photos online with sufficient detail for him to paint from, so we turned to The Lynde House Museum where my husband and I have done some volunteer work. They maintain a wonderful collection of antiquities including the baby shoes of Teddy Rowe, who won the “Bonniest Baby in the British Empire in 1924. (Tragically, the child developed scarlet fever at age six and, two years later, succumbed to complications stemming from the flu and his weakened heart.)
Zach Atticus photographed the shoes sitting in a stream of sunlight. I provided him with a photo of Mantz men’s dress shoes, the brand worn religiously by Floyd Hoffman. In the final version of the book cover, a hint of Floyd’s shoes is visible, a symbol of the generations represented in the novel. Below are photos of Zach Atticus’s work in progress.
There’s a space reserved on my wall for the final painting! I cannot wait to hang it there.