Behind the Covers: “Temple Grove”

Temple GroveScott Elliott‘s novel Temple Grove is a gripping tale of suspense that explores the traditions that tie people to a powerful landscape and the conflicts that run deep among them. The book—which was recently released in paperback—won an AAUP design award in 2014. In this guest post, UW Press Senior Designer Thomas Eykemans walks us through his creative process in designing the book’s cover.

A book designer rarely has an opportunity to work on the cover of a book set in a place as dear to me as that of Scott Elliott’s Temple Grove. As a native of Port Angeles, Washington I was irresistibly drawn to Elliott’s dramatic story set on the familiar Olympic Peninsula. Densely rich with natural imagery and atmospheric nuances, the setting almost becomes its own character.

Image research for the cover of "Temple Grove"

Image research for the cover of “Temple Grove”

In reading the novel, I was intrigued by the repeated motif of a nurse log:

“His old caulks with spiked soles dug into the mossy earth—decaying fallen redcedar and Douglas firs, many of which had become nurse logs, fern, liverwort, and young hemlock sprouting out of the rot. . . .”

The idea of a nurse log resonated with the family drama occurring in the story: parents and children; displacement and home; death and life. I chose to work in rough style, carving the design into a block print, alluding to the industrial nature of logging, the physical qualities of wood, and the raw elements of the characters’ personalities.

I felt confident in the concept so initial sketches progressed quickly

Initial sketches progressed quickly

Tools, test prints, and progress

Methods, tools, and test prints

Temple Grove Front

The final hardcover book