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Central Park Renewed: Replacing Tragedy with Happy

As book #2 in the Girl on the Right family develops, we are again tasked with creating cover art that perfectly reflects the story and theme. Part of our task-at-hand is easy since the book is about marriage – lessons in marriage, to be exact.

Initially, I delved into my wedding photos to find one that might provide cover-artist-extraordinaire, Amy Koenig, with a place to start. We kicked around a few ideas with a photo I harvested, but none of them spoke to me, or her, I suspect. The photo, although beautiful, was lacking in personality and that cool Girl on the Right vibe.

Time to warm up Amy’s camera and pull out The Shoes!

I know her eye will catch something wonderful, and can’t wait to see what magic we create together. The date is on the calendar, and our location chosen. The location is significant.

Since 1980, I’ve spent countless days roaming the forest-like grounds of Milford, Michigan’s Central Park. For most of my childhood, the park – a host of family picnics, school events, and village festivals – represented safety, peace, and small-town life.

That façade of safety shattered our community during the winter of 1992. My dear childhood friend was kidnapped from Central Park. Months after her disappearance, she was found in a shallow grave, her body wrapped in a garbage bag.

Without going into the traumatic details of her death, her kidnapper, her murderer, was identified as a serial killer with a lengthy criminal record. He never should’ve been on the street.

Since that time, I’ve never looked at the park in the same light. Maybe it’s irrational, but my heart sees the property as soiled or sacred. My husband mentioned that every time we pass by, I murmur, “That’s where my friend was kidnapped by a serial killer.” I guess my brain still hasn’t found a way to process what happened. It was random, senseless, and took a gentle soul far too soon; she was only a teenager.

Our book cover shoot is an opportunity to replace the sadness my heart and mind have attached to Central Park with positive, lasting memories. Hopefully I can also dig deep and add my memories of outrunning bridge trolls and skipping rocks in the river to my mental portfolio.

I have deep faith that something beautiful can emerge from something broken, and am thankful for the opportunity to do just that.

Bella Vida


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