Clown Series Book Cover Q & A

The author of the Clown book series answers questions about book-cover design.

Q: You create your own book covers?

A: Yes. I love doing it. In seminary, I learned to do rice-paper collage and I’m just crazy about it. Each cover is a collage.

Q: Collage. What exactly is that?

A: Quite simply, collage is affixing materials to a surface with artistic intent. I paint rice paper with rich colors, cut and tear the paper into the shapes, and affix the shapes to illustration board using watered-down glue. Sometimes I add other items as well: beads or threads, whatever gives the needed effect.

Q:  What is it about collage that you’re crazy about?

A: It’s not an easy art form, that’s for sure. Glue gets stuck to my fingers, rather than to the surface; the illustration board bows up with all the water applied, so I have to flip it over and wet down the other side. Getting the shapes I need is a challenge. But collage is very forgiving. When I mess up, I simply peel off what didn’t work, shed a few tears, and start over. And with all the water, it’s a baptism every time I do collage.

Q: Do you have a theme for your book covers?

A: A book-cover-design conference I attended favored  simplicity for book covers. And I get that: I did one book cover that way because the book’s theme is stark. But for the Clown series, I wanted a spectrum of rich colors—and I wanted intrigue.

I love book covers that puzzle me: ones that seem incongruous, then, when I’m midway into the story there’s that “Ah-ha!” moment. Each Clown book features a rendering (related to that book) of the Clown’s three primary-colored orbs. I hope readers enjoy getting to the “Ah-ha!” moment with each one of them. And, of course, reading the stories within the story.

 

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Clown Series Interview

 

The Clown Series

The author of the Clown book series answers questions about the books and about her motivations.

Q: Why a clown?

A: People wonder about that. Truth is, despite the horror industry’s bogarting of clowns, true clowns embody qualities of God that resonate with me. When I imagine God in human form, I see a Clown.  Capital C Clown.

Q: But a clown? There are lots of other human types you could have chosen.

A: Clowns intrigue me. Always have. And they set my thoughts on God. A clown embodies joy, benevolence, virtue, and love.  Sure, there is hiddenness behind the greasepaint, just as there’s hiddenness in God. But, let’s face it, a clown’s hiddenness is what makes them magical.

Q: How did you come to write these stories?

A: Since my early teens I  imagined my life as a story: how would I write what happened today for someone to read? During my late teens, I became intrigued with the magic of clowning. And I’ve always loved Jesus’ stories (parables, to use the literary term): so brief, but with such punch. In some kind of magical alchemy during my twenties, this image emerged of a clown spinning these timeless stories and those stories working a powerful good for those who had ears to hear.

Q: Isn’t there a Pollyanna quality to these stories? Can such problems as your characters encounter—from eating disorders to desertion even to death—be fixed by a story?

A: Fixed? No. Stories open us to possibilities. There’s a eureka moment in the reading or telling: we blink before a new and transforming thought. What will we do with our eureka? That’s where our work begins. I see the Clown books as realistic tales: ones that accompany readers through good times and bad; stories dusted with God-magic and grounded in hope.

Q: Why do you keep writing these books?

A: I thought there would only be three. But God keeps giving me stories and I never feel more alive, more connected to God, than when I’m writing. Plus, I keep hoping a child—8 or 80 years old—will pick one up at the time their soul longs for its message. I hope I’ll keep writing Clown stories until I meet the Clown face to face.

Why Parable? Part 1

Follow the ClownI based my Clown novel series on stories I’ve loved since earliest memory: a type of story called “parable.” Respite its sound, a parable has nothing to do with two of anything, or with a large-hipped fruit, or any kind of male bovine.

What, then, is a parable? Indulge me for a moment in a bit of God geekiness. A parable is a certain type of story. It’s generally brief and employs common, homey elements like baking bread or planting seek or lost money. Then the parable takes those elements and, through the deep magic of story, employs them to turn our upside down world right side up and our outside in lives inside out. In other words, parables start out feeling like a gentle warm bath, and end up as bracingly cold showers. Jesus’ use of parable—of which He was a master—inspired the Clown series. What I hope for myself, what I hope for my readers, is that we live as much as possible in the truth with which Jesus’ parables challenge us.

But there’s more: what’s your response to seeing, hearing, or seeing a great story—be the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Odyssey, or “The Crossing of the Red Sea”? A great story is a treasure of the real and lasting sort—and I believe in sharing the wealth. More than that, stories are roomy. They’re bigger than three points and a poem. There’ a place for sermonizing—I’ve done a bit of it myself—but, let’s face it—most of us would rather hear a cracking-good yarn. There has to be a reason for that. In part, I think it’s because stories don’t spell out what we’re to believe or how we ought to act. They’re spacious: they give us ample room to move around, to glean this now, and that later on. A story read as a child and it is one thing, as a teen and it’s another, as a young parent, yet another thing, as an older adult, something else. Or come to a story while in a happy relationship and it’s one thing, come to it with a broken heart, and it’s another. Stories are multi-sided; like God , they exist beyond our full knowing. Good stories leave us with both answers and questions. We leave them satiated and thirsty, filled and longing…