Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Not the first story, but I do remember one from grade school that taught me an important lesson. It was a story about a man who came into a village and offered to pay someone a bag of money if they'd let him hit them three times. Someone accepted the offer and braced himself for the blows. One, two - and that was all. "Where's my money?" cried the recipient of the blows. "You don't get any. I didn't hit you three times." "Boy, you sure fooled me!" chuckled the victim good naturedly. I thought this man was very clever and decided to try this scheme out on my sister. I offered her a dollar if she'd let me hit her three times and, after eyeing me suspiciously, she accepted, insisting I give her the money first. So I put a dollar in her hand and gave her two soft blows. Then I asked for my money back. "No way," she said. "But I didn't hit you three times!" I cried. She was impervious to the argument. A wrestling match ensued, but she was older and at least a match for me. She finally conceded that I should get 33 cents back, though by that time I was more than ready to deliver the third blow. I settled for the cash and it the burning awareness it was me who got outsmarted. Yes, it was on that day I learned the oh so important lesson that life does not always imitate art.
How do you approach cover design?
I look for an image that communicates the essence of the story. The cover makes a promise that the book should keep. If I can't capture the essence of the whole book, I look for an image that conveys a key aspect of the story. Above all, it should appeal to me - if it doesn't catch my attention, I doubt it would catch anyone else's.