In the early part of 2007 I was very fortunate to have found the cover art and artist for this project, "Proud Souls." I knew what I wanted for a cover concept but finding the right image and then yet still, finding something unique was proving early to be a daunting task. I envisioned an image of a tree, but not just any tree on the front cover. I chose a tree for various reasons, the first being the more obvious to those with a keen eye for what my English teacher, Mr. Kenneth Polito of North Side High would say, symbolism. Trees have always played a seemingly important role within the mythological history of a vast majority of the world's cultures. They most commonly signify life and death, which is a major theme within "Proud Souls." Christians know the story of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life; the ancient epic story of Gilgamesh tells the tale of his search for the symbolic tree of life. In Norse mythology, the sacred tree Yggdrasil was said to run from the north pole of the earth to the south, whereby each end of the tree (ends) represented either Life or Death. And with such symnbolism I wanted not only a tree which juxtaposed my antogonist--Justin Olerude Bower--but the look and feel which paralleled the essence of his character throughout the opening to the journey within "Proud Souls."
Enter my new friend, Maria Sanchez of SandiaFria.com:
During my search and with the help of my very close and personal friend, Jeff Sneed, we spanned the Internet for hours, working to find the right image, not just one that represented the vision I had within my mind, but one that was unique and would truly represent "Proud Souls" in the fashion I felt the story deserved. Jeff being a digital guru, even went as far as to create a digital image based on my vision for the cover. But in the end I ran across a tree painted by an artist based out of California--Maria Sanchez. I wrote her a brief yet descriptive letter, telling her about my project and my vision and she cordially obliged my request, authorizing me the right to use one of her arbol series paintings as the possible cover to PS. But like any good computer geek--Jeff and I--went to work and essentially, for lack of a better term, destroyed her art and tried to make it our own. We altered the colors the imagery, etc. and in the end, I could sense in Maria displeasure.
I thought about that moment for a while and I tried to put myself in Maria's shoes--the artists' shoes--and although I am not a painter, I am an artist nonetheless. I knew how I might feel if someone asked for permission to use my work, perhaps an excerpt of my novel and then alter it to fit their needs. I did apologize to Maria and I called her and explained the vision for the cover. I sent her a complimentary copy of the first 3 chapters to "Proud Souls" and as if it were yesterday, I remember Maria's response.
She told me she was in love with my writing and had a vision herself for the cover. On a Wednesday night she emailed me and told me she was working on a new painting, just for the book and a couple of days later it was done. The "Proud Souls Tree" is what she called it....and it was perfect.
"Drawing Stories...With Words"