Ellen Byron

Cover story… and cover reveal!

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?



29 thoughts on “Cover story… and cover reveal!

    • Ellen’s are great. BTW, when I first started writing mysteries, Ellen and I were constantly mistaken for each other because our names are so similar. We actually took a photo we shared where we wrote, “We are not each other.”

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Book covers are quite the art form aren’t they? All in one image you want to get the essence of the story, a hint at the genre, and why the reader should pick up your book. The only image that sticks in my mind at the moment is James Ziskin’s new book, A Stone’s Throw, of a racehorse practically running over the viewer. It’s a powerful image.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Great new cover, Ellen! You’ve got quite the gorgeous gallery going now. On this one I particularly love the welcoming glow from the plantation, with the skull outside. I have so many fave covers in general…but one that has always stuck with me is Mary Higgins Clark’s “Where are the Children?” It gives me chills.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ellen, I’ve loved all your Cajun Country covers, but I think the new one might be my favorite — love the mask on the skull and the beads on the pup! I also adore the 1920s style on the covers of Frances Brody’s Kate Shackleton series.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great new cover! I’ve always found Oak Alley to be so intriguing. Never been there, but I’d like to go. So I love that it’s on your cover. Don’t tell the first three books, but I think this one may be my favorite yet!

    Liked by 2 people

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