Guest Post: Melissa F. Olson & Cover Model

Melissa F. Olson is a fellow 47North author, a friend, and the motivational force (read: slave driver) for Westmarch Publishing–a publishing group I am a part of (more on Westmarch in a later blog post). She cut her teeth in urban fantasy with her highly acclaimed Scarlet Bernard stories (DEAD SPOTS and TRAIL OF DEAD). Her latest novel is a crime fiction featuring a tough, snarky, and pregnant, private investigator in Chicago. THE BIG KEEP has already been wracking up great reviews. She was kind enough to let me design the cover for the novel, and gracious enough to guest post on my blog about that process.

Thank you so much to Roberto Calas for hosting me today, the last day of my blog tour. I’m doing something a little different for this post: as you may or may not know, in addition to his writing duties, Roberto does freelance book cover design. In fact, he recently designed a gorgeous cover for my new mystery novel, The Big Keep, using a photograph by Elizabeth Kraft. Since Roberto did such a wonderful job with the photo, I thought it might be fun to hear from the woman behind the photo: the cover model, Michelle Hockersmith.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, and how you know the photographer, Elizabeth Kraft.
Elizabeth Kraft and I went to the same high school, where her oldest sister was good friends with my brother so it just kind of made sense that Elizabeth and I would become friends also.

A few things about me: my birthday is the day after the book release (which I think is pretty cool), and I’m a mommy to two awesome kids: Lilly, my 9 year old daughter; and Peyton, my 4 year old son. I am currently a high school art teacher in the Twin Cities area.

2. What were the weather and conditions like on the day of the shoot? Was it hot going around in a leather jacket and boots in June?
It started out a little sketchy actually; we were worried we’d have to reschedule due to some rain.  I’m pretty sure we all said a few prayers asking for the sky to clear and for the sun to come out…which it did. It ended up being a beautiful day with a lot of sunshine. Not only was it sunny but it was incredibly windy, haha!  It makes me laugh thinking about it because my hair was in my eyes more than not and the wind gusts blew up lots of sand.  Getting sandblasted facials is always fun. Overall it was actually a perfect day to be wearing boots and a leather jacket.

3. What kind of direction did the photographer give you as you posed?
The photographer gave me a few emotions that the character could have been feeling.  She told me to think back to when I was pregnant and having the weight of the world on your shoulders, being completely exhausted, but also having that energy which comes with excitement.

4. What was the hardest thing about the shoot? The best thing?
The hardest and the best thing for me would probably be the wind. It created awesome pictures, but was extremely frustrating at the same time.

5. Which shot was your favorite? What were your thoughts on the photo that ended up being chosen for the cover?
All of the ones we did in the ally seemed to really speak to me.  I was able to truly get into character and have the feeling of the Chicago life.

When I saw the cover I was shocked, to be honest, only because I didn’t even remember that picture!  I just kept looking at it and thinking wow that really does fit the part, she looks worn out and powerful at the same time.  It’s the perfect cover picture