Creating a Young Adult Book Cover

November 2, 2013

Sliding Beneath the Surface

Sliding Beneath the Surface

Sliding Beneath the Surface is my paranormal/historical book that is Part I of

The St. Augustine Trilogy.

Spooky and weird it is, so how to make a cover that says this and proves really intriguing? And one that didn’t cost me an arm and leg to create.

In the trilogy, Lobo, the Native American Shaman, guides teenagers Jeff and Carla through some very dangerous paranormal events. Old Lobo, especially in Sliding Beneath the Surface, continually stresses how reality is mutilayered, infinitely so. “There are worlds-within-worlds,” he is fond of saying.

Because of Lobo and his philosophy, I wanted to find something symbolic to represent that whole train of thought. It took some time but staying in St. Augustine to write parts of the book helped me to find the answer.

While visiting Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum in that old city, I came across a large Chinese Puzzle Ball. If you’ve never seen them, they are hand carved and contain multiple and separate balls inside–the perfect symbol for Lobo’s outlook. Lobo is a wood carver, so of course, he creates his own puzzle balls and uses one in the book to help illustrate his viewpoint.

Puzzle Ball Prime blogAfter acquiring my own Chinese Puzzle ball, I got my son, Greg Dillon, to photograph it for me. He did a beautiful job as you can see by the book cover and his original picture. It’s so nice to have a professional photographer in the family. Click here to see Greg’s website.

As perfect as the puzzle ball was for the cover focal point, I needed to have some sort of eerie background but one that didn’t detract from the main focus. And since the book is set in the oldest and most haunted city in the United States, I wanted to use a well known building even if few other people would recognize it.

The Old Alcazar Hotel

The Old Alcazar Hotel

In the end, I chose the old Hotel Alcazar, now the site of St. Augustine’s city hall and the Lightner Museum. What you see on the cover is a side view of that building.

My instructions to Michael Lynch, my book covert designer, was to add a St. Augustine-like street light, some tree branches and a little fog. And that’s what he did, capping it all off with the puzzle ball and the appropriate text. The result was gorgeous. Click here for Michael’s website.

If you would like more information on Chinese Puzzle Balls, click here.



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