While brainstorming artwork options for Surviving In Spirit’s cover, it hit me that posing in the buff was the only way to express the sense of vulnerability that overpowered me the second my 30-year-old sister died, on April 5, 2009. To this day, “naked” is the one word that sums up the very specific way I feel—lonely, helpless, sad, small, accepting, relieved, perplexed, grateful, and so very human all at once—whenever I think about Céline. Nudity is raw, untouched, and defenseless. It is also beautiful.

Intent on conveying my deepest, sincerest emotions, I enlisted a world-renowned artist, Michel Tcherevoff (who happens to be my boyfriend’s father), to photograph me stripped of clothing and any pretense. The video below is a behind-the-scenes look at our collaboration. I also wrote about the experience for Cosmopolitan Magazine.



In my view, the book cover created using Michel’s best photo (below, at left) is tasteful and poignant. Unfortunately, industry insiders advised me that prudish online retailers like Apple and Amazon wouldn’t see it that way. The risk of going with a provocative cover was that conservative booksellers would refuse to promote Surviving In Spirit. Absurd, you say? Agreed. But since my goal is to reach as many potential readers as possible, I couldn’t risk losing the support of major distributors. That’s why Surviving In Spirit’s official cover (below, at right) is a compelling but safe design featuring one of my favorite old Berliet family portraits. Luckily, the-cover-that-never-was can live here on this website, for the enjoyment of anyone who isn’t offended by the naked female form.

surviving in spirit


Creative design from the South

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