I'm excited to unveil the cover art for Dan Berne's upcoming novel, The Gods of Second Chances, which will be published in March by Forest Avenue Press.
Sometimes with a project like this, I have to do a lot of noodling before I come up with something I like. With Dan's book, I just mused on the story, the characters, the lovely straight-forward voice of the novel's narrator, Alaskan fisherman Ray Bancroft, and the idea popped into my head pretty much fully formed.
Granted there was definitely tinkering. To lay out my geometrical school of salmon so that it didn't overwhelm the author's name or crowd the title. To design a fish I really liked. There was lots of fish tinkering...
In the end, I went with a simple fish, which I thought would work best with the geometrical design of the school. One with lots of red to stand out sharply against the background blue.
The art I'm referencing here - even down to the colors I chose - is Tlingit. The Tlingit are an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest, particularly of the southeast coast of Alaska. Their art, and that of other indigenous peoples like the Haida, symbolize the Pacific Northwest, and Tlingit culture figures in The Gods of Second Chances. There's some really cool info on the Tlingit culture here. From all I've read, Tlingit art seems to represent the connection between man and the greater world - nature, the cosmos, the sacred. It's intimidating to reference an art style from a culture that's not my own, but I hope I've done justice to it. And to Dan Berne's book, which, along its page-turner of a plotline, explores the many different meanings of sacred, whether in the vastness of the ocean or the crowd of ceramic gods on Ray's kitchen counter or the complexities of family.
More information about Forest Avenue Press is here.
And more about The Gods of Second Chances and Dan Berne is here.
Some good information and pictures of Tlingit art can be found here.
As Stephen and I come to the top of the supermarket escalator and step off, an old man is right there, shuffling onto the top step of the down escalator with a small paper grocery bag and a cane. Very slow and very unsteady. Starting down, he sags into the side, balanced against the moving handrail.
Then tips backward.
Then he's gone behind the thick steel armature of the escalator. Behind me, Stephen's voice does a little barrage of, "Oh, oh, oh!"
Now I'm hurrying down the moving steps and the old man's laid out on his back below me, sprawled, carried along toward the bottom. I don't know what to do. I stop stupid in the middle of the escalator. The way he's lying there, his head toward me, both of us moving, I feel more like someone who might hurt him than someone who might help him up.
From behind and above me comes a young woman, smaller than me, long black hair, wearing a Fred Meyer badge. I do the first smart thing I've done since this started. I get out of the way.
She goes past me and down to the man, crouching over him. His cane clunks along beside them. It's painted in big random swaths of bright color. I try to at least retrieve the cane but I can't reach it. They come to a stop at the bottom, bag and cane a clatter onto the floor. Together, they start to rise, slowly, slowly, the woman asking if he's OK, her hand on his arm, lifting him, and suddenly I'm at the bottom and there's nowhere for me to go but right into them. I start back-stepping.
She's helping him up, getting the job done, and I'm an idiot on an escalator, running in place, backward, in slow motion, trying to keep from knocking them both back down.
I do this for what seems like a very long time.
Then it's over. He's shuffling off toward the parking lot and she's stepping back so I can get my feet on the ground.
She smiles at me. "That's so scary," she says. She looks very young. East Indian, with a faint orange dot in the center of her brow. "Last week my boss fell down those steps." Chatting away as we ride together, back to the top.
My body feels like a sandcastle after the tide's washed in. But I did my good deed for the day. I kept out of the way.