Funny story about that cover…
Ask an author about any topic and you’ll probably hear this response: “There’s a story behind that….” It’s true for me as well. As with every book I’ve written, there are weird stories, serendipitous moments, and fiction that soon turns into true life events, so now I enjoy watching it all unfold and letting Karma work her magic.
When people ask about how I conceived the cover for the B.R.A.G. Medallion winning A Girl Like That, my answer is of course: that’s a funny story. Obviously, the reader needs to know a little about the book’s summary. It’s set in North Carolina and is about a woman named Elle (also known as Badass Barbie), who was that mean girl in high school who did something so awful in the first book of the Kyle and Chelsea series, The One, it landed her in prison for a year after everyone else graduated and went on to college and happier times. Elle learned baking as a trade in prison so nineteen years after high school, she is starting over in coastal Wilmington, as far away from her mountain home as she dares to go, and opens a bakery called Bake My Day. Due to her previous incarceration, Elle loathes the color orange, which seems to invade her every pore in A Girl Like That, so I was imagining what kind of cover could possibly result from a sultry tale told between the inner voices of Good Elle and Bad Elle as she attempts to reinvent herself at the beach.
First, I needed a girl with bombshell legs. Jessica, my daughter who lives in Charlotte and does hot yoga religiously, has really knockout legs. She also had just the right saucy black dress and the perfect patent leather pumps to create the defiant look I was envisioning.
Next, I needed a cake—with orange ribbon on it. (You have to read the last chapter to understand why.) My friend, Lauren, a baker I interviewed for the story, guided me via cellphone through the aisles of Michael’s in search of fondant, a wondrous cake-decorating medium I knew nothing about, with her reassurance that of course I could pull this off. So with three Styrofoam rounds, a package of fondant, a roll of orange grosgrain ribbon, and a cake topper called The Reluctant Groom—along with the help of a YouTube video or two about how to work with fondant—I made a dummy wedding cake for my cover photo set.
It was March, rainy and cold, but as a self-published author in charge of taking the cover shot, I had to get on with this photo shoot if I wanted to release my self-manufactured masterpiece by the end of May. My daughter and I watched the weather and our calendars for the first available Saturday over 60 degrees. Meanwhile, I played with my husband at our home near Greensboro, making him pose with his feet apart in the hallway, with the cake a certain distance in front of him, so it looked like I wanted it in the frame of my camera. When the time came, I’d be totally ready.
Finally, the sunny forecast was in our favor so my daughter drove home on a Friday night, and we headed out for the three-and-a-half hour drive to Wilmington the next morning. Jessica and I met up with fellow author and friend, Sabrina Sells Stephens for lunch at Tower 7 on Wrightsville Beach, where she told us about the L-shaped Lot (apparently there’s a WB band with the same name), which was actually Public Beach Access #3 down the beach road near Shell Island. I parked and paid at the meter during the time it took Jessica to change clothes in the car, like the surfers doing the same thing across the parking lot. We were the only people there. I took the cake in its box and my camera, Jess grabbed her fabulous pumps, and we walked up to the boardwalk at 1:30 PM. The sky, a vivid blue filled with sassy clouds was just what I’d hoped for and the ocean had just the right sparkle—for attitude. Taking the cake out of its box, I placed it on the boardwalk, Jess put on her shoes and posed for one, two, three, maybe four shots. Four clicks of the camera lens and it was over. The whole thing took ten minutes and nobody saw it. People always say, “I’ll bet you got a lot of funny looks staging that picture.” But no one was there—just us, the ocean, and a couple of clouds.
We rounded out the afternoon by visiting my cousin Hathia, who is on the Friends of the Library board (and arranged a lovely book talk event for me at the New Hanover County library the following September), and then we drove home. Since then, the cover has been the drawing factor for my book sales, and the cake goes with me to all of my signing events—along with The Reluctant Groom.
by Mary Flinn
B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree
For more information about A Girl Like That and Mary Flinn’s other titles, please visit www.TheOneNovel.com.