As an author (especially as a spiritual author), I always have to walk a fine line: the nature of marketing means I need to be promoting my books, but the nature of humility means that I may not brag about them. At least, not about the text, which is to say, the content that I created.
But my books are more than just my work. Every book represents the labor and creativity not only of the author, but of editors, proofreaders, salespeople, marketers and publicists, and designers. In today’s post, I want to praise the designers. At least three of my books feature truly beautiful cover art, that I really had nothing to do with. But they’re wonderful, and they deserve to be in the spotlight.
So I want to, as we say in the south, brag on them. And even if you are not particularly into book design, I hope you will find the architecture represented in these images interesting: a church, a chateau, and a monastery all have shown up on my covers. Here they are…
The Big Book of Christian Mysticism features a photograph taken by Francesco Pirrone of the Church of San Pantaleo in Martis, Sardinia. The church, built in the thirteenth century, is now in ruins, which allows for the striking imagery of sunlight streaming into the aisle. Here is the image that was used for the book cover:
And here is another image, also by Francesco Pirrone, photographed in the church’s nave and which shows why the sunlight is so vivid in the image used on the cover:
As you can see from this image, the sunlight streamed through a round hole once graced by a window, but now just providing a stream of light into the church — and because of the time of day Pirrone took his pictures, that light shined into the aisle (at the right of the lower picture) where he took the picture that eventually was used by designer Tracy Johnson when she created the cover of my book:
Answering the Contemplative Call features a photograph by Mel Curtis of a spiral staircase found in the Château d’Amboise on the River Loire in France. This splendid structure dates back to at least the tenth century, with the building under royal control from 1434. Today recognized as a historical monument, the Chateau is an imposing edifice dominating the skyline of Amboise, about seventeen miles east of Tours.
The cover image of Answering the Contemplative Call was selected because of its imaginative lighting and perspective: the viewer is invited down the spiral staircase, beckoned by light shining up from below. It’s a lovely metaphor for the spiritual life, which is simultaneously a quest for the light of God, but also an invitation to enter the depth of one’s soul. The following image, also by Mel Curtis, provides a glimpse of the same staircase from the bottom looking up.
Befriending Silence celebrates the gifts of Cistercian spirituality, so it only stands to reason that the cover would feature an image from a Cistercian monastery. The image chosen for this book’s cover was photographed by Seb Hovaguimian in the church of L’abbaye du Thoronet (Le Thoronet Abbey), a former Cistercian abbey built in the late twelfth/early thirteenth century in Provence (southeast France). Thoronet is now a museum, renowned for its magnificence as an example of early Cistercian architecture. Even before this image was chosen for the cover of Befriending Silence, I was familiar with Le Thoronet Abbey because it is featured in a classic book about Cistercian architecture, Lucien Hervé’s Architecture of Truth. Here is Hovaguimian’s original image:
To get another glimpse into the architectural splendor of Le Thoronet, here’s an image from a different photographer, Gilles Barattini.
And now, the cover of Befriending Silence, designed by Angela Moody of www.amoodycover.com:
Needless to say, I love all three book covers. I love the photography (thank you, Francesco Pirrone, Mel Curtis and Seb Hovaguimian) and I love the design (kudos also to Tracy Johnson, Barbara Fisher and Angela Moody). I have never been to any of these locations (the Church of San Pantaleo in Sardinia; the Château d’Amboise on the Loire, or Le Thoronet Abbey in Provence) but all three are now on my bucket list. If you make it to Italy or France before me, check out these locations.
“You can’t judge a book by its cover.” It’s a truism, and certainly these covers, featuring medieval buildings photographed and designed by artists who had not read my writing, exist as works of beauty in their own right, regardless of the merit (or lack thereof) in my own work. It’s just that they are all so lovely; I only hope that my words are worthy of their beauty.
Thanks for looking at these pictures and learning a little bit about the architecture featured on my book covers. Which one is your favorite? Let me know, either through social media or a comment here. And thanks for reading!