As we were preparing The Last Resort for publication, I had one nagging frustration: I wanted to include a map of the area around the camp on Salt River, but I didn’t have the skills to realize my vision. I imagined a map that would help the reader locate Pud’s favorite fishing holes and river paths as well as the farms he and the other boys traipsed across to get to the camp. I had in mind something similar to the hand-drawn map of Port William at the back of Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow.
It was not until after we had published the paperback edition of the book that a friend suggested the perfect artist for the job. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought to contact her before. She is a friend of many years, a former work colleague, a recognized artist in multiple media, and a musician. As chance would have it, she was also another college chum of mine. Having her join our creative team—which already included college classmate David Hoefer, the author of the book’s introduction; Barbara Grinnell, my friend and former colleague at Transylvania University; and my husband, Rick Showalter—upped the talent level and increased my joy amidst all the hard work.
Well, dear reader, you are in for a treat. This map is my small gift to you, to thank you for following this blog and sharing interest in this project. If you have read The Last Resort, I think you will appreciate Laura Lee Cundiff’s representation of “The Last Resort and Environs.” You will recognize most, if not all, of the landmarks on the map. Look closely and you will find Thomas the Model T pickup and Mike, Pud’s Wire Fox Terrier. Of course, all of the important fishing gear is in plain sight.
If you do not yet own The Last Resort, you may want to purchase a copy of the new hard cover edition, which will include this fanciful map. Books will be available through your local bookseller by early December. (Simply ask the proprietor to order ISBN 978-0-9992540-1-1 through Ingram book distributors.) It would make a great Christmas gift!
As the season of thanksgiving approaches, I am so grateful for everyone who has helped bring this second release to fruition. Each time I dive into a new publishing project, I am amazed at the amount of labor involved. Thankfully, I have a supporting team that never lacks energy, inspiration, and encouragement. No matter how unreasonable my demands or how zany my requests, they have responded with patience and dedication.
Who knows what the next chapter will be?
I spent some time this afternoon thumbing through a printed proof of The Last Resort, and it’s hard to describe the sense of satisfaction that brings. I’ve nervously anticipated its arrival for two weeks, as we tweaked the final formatting for the publishing process. Now I have tangible proof of all of our labor over the past two-and-a-half years, and I am overjoyed.
I began working on The Last Resort in earnest in early 2015 after leaving full-time employment. The first task was simply typing the handwritten journal. Even that had its challenges, I learned. Reading my father’s handwriting, in pencil, after more than 70 years was difficult at times, especially for someone (like me) whose vision is badly compromised. Then there was the issue of all the taxonomic identifiers in the text—all those genus and species names that I was not familiar with. I tried to verify every one as I typed. That really slowed me down.
Once that step was behind me, my collaborator, David Hoefer, urged me to annotate every reference that might be unfamiliar to today’s readers. That included people, places, colloquial expressions, historical references, etc. That phase required contacting a lot of Anderson County natives and spending time at the current site of Camp Last Resort. David did a massive amount of research into disparate topics like old fishing lures, World War II-era firearms and airplanes, and the geography of the area.
Then I turned to reading through other materials my father had left behind, including some correspondence from World War II and the second journal from the 1950s. Those also had to be transcribed and annotated. Eventually, we wrapped up the difficult process of choosing excerpts to include in the final book.
After a nine-month interruption, during which David and I both dug into other projects, we picked back up with fiery determination in May, with the goal of publishing by the end of the summer. These last few months have been an intense period of proofreading, verifying facts, designing the layout, selecting photos, and polishing the final product.
I am proud of the book we have produced, and I can’t wait to make it available to you. Stay tuned for news of publication dates and launch parties!
A good designer sometimes proves how misguided you are. Oh, not in a blustery, arrogant way, but in a quiet, effective way.
And I was lucky enough, when it finally was time to have a cover designed for The Last Resort, to hook up with one of the best.
For two years I thought I knew exactly how I wanted the cover to look. I had a photo in mind that would be perfect. It would relay both the passage of time integral to the story as well as the eternal hope and beauty inherent in the natural world.
But I was wrong. Oh so wrong.
Nonetheless, I confidently relayed my ideas to Barbara Grinnell, designer extraordinaire. She listened closely. She faithfully rendered the very idea I had in mind. And then she created the perfect cover for the book.
She presented them both to me simultaneously. When she did, she wisely numbered the one I had asked for “1,” so I looked at it first. I loved it. It was everything I wanted. Then I looked at her second offering. And I was blown away.
It was so simple, but it was exactly right. I had convinced myself that the cover had to be bright and colorful for the book to be noticed. But it’s a quiet little book about an era long ago. It’s filled with black-and-white photos from the 1940s. I immediately understood that it needed a cover that evoked those qualities, not a braggartly, ostentatious cover that would attract readers looking for something other than what was inside.
I shared the cover options with a small focus group of friends, relatives, and strangers. Everyone agreed that the choice was clear.
The cover of The Last Resort is authentic to the material inside. And I have Barbara Grinnell to thank for leading me in the right direction. By creating both the cover I wanted and the cover I needed, she made me see how wrong my initial instincts were.
If you have a design project you think Barbara could help you with, I hope you’ll get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.