It’s hard to say why I was so intent on using one of my own photographs for the cover of my first book, Walland. Maybe it was because the setting is a place my husband and I have traveled to often over the last decade, and the boathouse that I used on the cover is a spot I’ve personally photographed obsessively during our dozens of visits to that part of Tennessee. If there’s anything I love as much or more than writing, it’s photography. Once the pages of Walland poured out of me, it seemed only natural that something as intimate as my first novel would be paired with a cherished photograph.
I worked with a designer from 99designs.com to come up with the finished product, using an overlay to create the dreamy sky. Walland is a love story, but I knew I didn’t want a shirtless hunk on the cover. (I saved that for the inside.) I hoped that people would gravitate toward Walland because of the cover, but then come inside and stay awhile because it’s a riveting story.
For the second book in the Hesse Creek Series, I didn’t already have the perfect photograph in my personal archives, but I knew where I could capture it. The second half of Seeds of Intention is set in another one of my favorite places, the Colorado Rocky Mountains, so my best friend and I jumped on a plane to Aspen the day after Christmas and spent forty-eight hours chasing the fleeting winter light in search of a moment in time.
We even spent an entire morning snowmobiling up to Maroon Bells to try to get the shot, but the lighting wasn’t quite right. In my opinion, a great picture isn’t really so much about the subject matter. It’s more important to have shapes and light that are captivating, and to then find a way to frame it all up in order to convey the emotion you’re feeling when you click the shutter. It wasn’t until the final few hours of daylight, and during a very snowy hike, that we stumbled exhausted into the most regal grove of aspen trees.
Looking up, I knew I had the shot. The late-December sun was illuminating the forest in an almost heartbreaking way. I could have stood there for days. I’m transported back to that afternoon every time I see the cover of Seeds of Intention, and I’m grateful to my best friend for insisting we take that one final hike.
I’m so proud of my first two covers. I’m writing the third book in the series now, and even though I’m only a few chapters into the story, my mind is already excited about the possibilities of what this new cover might look like. I’ve created a Pinterest board for each of my first three books, where I post not just images that inspire my character development, but the settings in which they live and work.
The woman in my latest novel is so different then anyone I’ve written so far, and her home reflects her unique personality. It’s very stimulating searching for pictures to give me inspiration, and my vision boards, along with unique music playlists I listen to while I’m writing, are a huge part of my creative process.
If I stop and think about it, my novels really involve all five of the senses. I want readers to be able to smell the wood smoke and taste the whisky when they’re curled up with Walland or Seeds of Intention. Gravel crunching under truck tires and early morning mist over a horse pasture. That’s good stuff. I don’t ever want to rush past those important details. Even the feel of the covers was important to me. They have sort of a velvety texture, and I personally prefer paperback, so that is what I chose.
I started out my career as a broadcast journalist, and that was fun and exciting, but nothing compares to being a writer/photographer. Having such a hands-on approach to story-telling, both visually and with the written word, has fulfilled me in a way I never could have imagined. I can’t wait to see where the next chapters—and images—take me.
Andrea Thome is a former broadcast journalist and the author of Walland and Seeds of Intention, the first two books in the Hesse Creek Series. She lives at home with her husband (a retired professional baseball player,) and their two children. You can learn more about her and see more of her photographs at andreathome.com.
About SEEDS OF INTENTION
Is it more important to have roots, or wings?
Garrett Oliver has just settled into his job as heir apparent to one of the most renowned master gardeners in the country. After a difficult few years, he’s found a home and a renewed purpose at a famed resort in the secluded Smoky Mountains. The stars seem to be aligning for Garrett as he plans a future with his college sweetheart and envisions a simple life with her in the mountains of East Tennessee.
Willow Armstrong, fresh off a painful breakup, is coming home to Knoxville to care for her ailing father. She finds herself in the right place at the right time, landing a dream job alongside Garrett—as his boss. As they are thrown together by their work, an undeniable magnetism grows between them, despite the fact that Garrett is ready to start a future with someone else. Circumstances persist in drawing them closer, and an unexpected opportunity in Colorado prompts Willow and Garrett to wonder if a life together out west might be beyond anything either of them had dared to imagine.