Yesterday, I did a cover reveal for MARDI GRAS MURDER, the fourth book in my Cajun Country Mystery series – available for pre-order!! – over at Dru’s Musings. I thought it might be fun to share a bit about the real plantations you see on my book covers.
PLANTATION SHUDDERS features an illustration of Nottoway, the largest existing antebellum mansion in the South, now a 4-star resort. This was the first book in my series and I’ll never forget how excited I was when I saw the gorgeous artwork. Stephen Gardner, the cover artist for my books, did an amazing job. Interestingly, in my mind, Crozat Plantation B and B, the fictional family home and business of my protagonist’s family, looks like Ashland-Belle Helene, and Doucet Plantation – former home to her mother’s family – looks like…
…Houmas House, featured on the cover of my second book, BODY ON THE BAYOU. Below on the left is a photo I took of this landmark River Road home; on the right, another marvelous illustration by Stephen. I only had two notes on the cover art: make sure both the bride and groom are falling over, and make the frosting as purple as possible. (Originally it was pink, but purple is my series’ signature color, along with green and gold – the colors of Mardi Gras.)
Since book four, A CAJUN CHRISTMAS KILLING, revolved around Christmas, this cover has a different look. The focus is on traditional symbols of the holiday: presents, ornaments, a tree, even a Santa hat on the beloved family pet (who’s based on our beloved late basset hound, Lucy). All the cover lacked was an element of suspense, and my agent came up with the idea of decorating the tree with skull and cross bone ornaments. The only existing Louisiana plantation featuring Gothic design is San Francisco. I can’t guarantee that’s why inspired Stephen, but it’s the closest I could come up with.
Finally, we have MARDI GRAS MURDER. This cover features the most iconic plantation in Louisiana, Oak Alley. I’m lucky because my publisher allows me to input on cover art. I sent Crooked Lane photos of two plantations, Oak Alley and Evergreen, and also recommended that we put a mask on the cover and use the Mardi Gras color scheme. Picking a favorite cover is like picking a favorite child – you feel so guilty! But I so, so love this one…
As I write this, I’m overwhelmed with how lucky I am to have a supportive publisher who found the perfect cover artist for my series. And not only do Stephen’s illustrations make great covers… they make great charms!
Readers, do you have a favorite book cover? Besides my own, mine would be the original cover art for THE GREAT GATSBY. What about you?