Here’s the thing. I’d been in New Zealand for a couple of days and was feeling quite emotional when I fell asleep, then woke up at 3am. I thought the iPad by my bed was on mute, but the volume was just loud enough for me to hear the ping of an email as it came in. So I lay there and thought, should I just turn over and forget it, or do I need to turn the volume down so I’m not woken again? And if I have to turn the volume down, I might as well check the email at the same time, right?

Not the best idea: attached to the email was the first draft of the cover of ‘Cruel Tide’. I say the first draft, but actually this was after I’d already thought about and sent the brief to Kevin the cover designer. I had an image in my head and it was this that he’d incorporated into the cover that was staring back at me now in the middle of the night. I knew it would be powerful but it blew me away. Then I started having doubts. Was it too graphic, too haunting, too strong? What would readers of my previous books make of it? Would there be howls of protest, and was I risking my current readership for the potential larger potential audience of crime/thriller readers? These are not good thoughts to grapple with in the depth of the night, far from home, after three hours sleep.

Too late. I was hooked now and sleep evaporated. I’d already said I wanted the cover sorted out as soon as possible so we could get on with promotion, posters, and so on. So in I dived, and the emails zipped to the other side of the earth and back again. Maybe email was better than a phone call, as I couldn’t hear the frustration in the voice at the other end who was liaising with Kevin. ‘More of this’, I said, ‘and less of that’. You know how it goes, picky, picky.

By the time that exchange was over, light was dawning in the New Zealand sky and the tuis had begin their wonderful squeaky croaking chorus to welcome the day. If you’ve never seen or heard a tui, check it out. I love them, but perhaps not so early and after a disturbed night. Welcome or not, the new day and the early birds reminded me that the world goes on. Angst about a book cover is nothing, relative to the real issues of our world. A mere pimple on the cheek of life. Get over it. Yes the image is powerful, and maybe some people will find it disturbing, but the content of the book is disturbing too. I knew that from the start, and I haven’t backed away from it, so now’s the time to stay strong. ‘Staunch’ is the Kiwi word for it. If you can’t take some risks and follow your instincts when you self-publish, why bother?