Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Featured Author: Cathy Ace

Cathy Ace, author of The Corpse with the Golden Nose, is on tour with Great Escapes Book Tours, and I'm happy to have her here today with a guest post.

About the book:

A heartfelt plea to look into the death of a world-famous vintner goes hand in hand with the opportunity to attend an exclusive gourmet event in British Columbia’s stunning wine country. How can overindulgent foodie and criminologist Cait Morgan resist?

Sure that the award-winning owner of a family-run vineyard was murdered, Cait shares her findings with Bud Anderson, a retired homicide cop. But he is convinced that the woman took her own life, whatever her grief-stricken sister might say. That is, until death strikes once again, in the neat rows of grapevines that clamber up the banks of magnificent Lake Okanagan.

Uncovering obsessions that might have fuelled murderous thoughts among the victim’s wacky neighbours is a start, but as Cait unravels the clues, she realizes that more lives are at stake. Can she think, and act, quickly enough to thwart the killer?

The Corpse with the Golden Nose is the second book in the Cait Morgan Mysteries, a classic whodunit series featuring the eccentric Professor Cait Morgan.

Guest Post by Cathy Ace

Judge a Book By Its Cover?

We’ve all heard the saying, “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover,” right? And yet we still do . . . or do we? If we don’t, then all books could be put on sale with just the title and author’s name in bold black lettering, nothing more. So what’s the purpose of a book cover—other than to protect the pages within?

When I’m browsing the bookstore—bricks or clicks—or the library, I always head for the FICTION section and, within it, the MYSTERIES. When I get there, I start at authors beginning with “A” (I’m really hoping you do too!) and have at it. The vast majority of the books are presented spine-on, even in bookstores. That means that the first thing that has to catch my eye is the title, or the author. Maybe you, like me, know certain authors’ names, and dwell on the titles available, or, if a person’s work isn’t known to you, it’s their titles that’ll tickle your interest. It’s only once I make a small commitment and pull the book from the shelf that the cover design can get to work on me.

I’ll be honest and tell you now that I have put books back onto the shelf because a) the cover didn’t appeal to me and b) I still took the time to read the cover notes, and I didn’t think, at that point, that the book would be my cup of tea. So I do try to not let just the cover put me off a book. If I don’t like it, I try to get past it—but I’m then in a frame of mind where the cover notes have to work even harder to win me over. I have chosen to read books with what I think of as dreadful covers, so it’s not an insurmountable obstacle.

However, if the cover is something that appeals to me, I’m already in a more receptive mood when I read the notes, and that means I’m more likely to open the book and check out some more about it . . . an important step in the selection process. Of course there are some books with very appealing covers that I’ve put back on the shelf, because the book didn’t seem to be for me, so it doesn’t make book selection a sure fire thing.

On balance, as an author, I’d rather err on the side of caution, so I work with a wonderful designer named Pete, who’s employed by my publisher, to try to come up with a cover that’s not only appealing, but resonates with something of the atmosphere that the book conveys. I don’t think it should merely be appealing—I think that it should give the reader a real insight into what sort of book you can expect it to contain.

From the outset of my relationship with my publisher, TouchWood Editions, they knew that I had planned a series of at least nine Cait Morgan Mysteries. What sets each one apart from the others is their location—Cait gets about a bit you know!—so we decided that the cover art for the books would be location/setting orientated. Cait’s first Mystery, The Corpse
With the Silver Tongue, takes place in Nice in the south of France, so beauty shots of the location weren’t difficult to come by . . . but finding one that didn’t look like a travel brochure were more challenging. The exact location for the first murder is an apartment in a Belle Époque building overlooking the glittering Baie des Anges, so Pete found a super side-shot of the iconic Negresco Hotel on the Promenade des Anglais, which he cropped perfectly. With the French flag fluttering atop the magnificent pink dome, and a wonderful ageing technique applied to the photograph, giving it some gravitas, I felt he’d really captured the mood of a carefree city by the sea, that hides its secrets under layers of complex history. I also think that the typeface he’s chosen for the titles is reminiscent of “The Golden Age” of mysteries, without imitating, or aping it—which is exactly what I’m trying to achieve with my work.

The Corpse With the Golden Nose is set in British Columbia’s wine country, surrounding Lake Okanagan, so, again, it wasn’t tough to find glorious photographs of such a naturally beautiful environment. This time the challenge was to find something that showed off the vineyards, but with a clearly identifiable section of lake in play as well . . . since both elements are critical to the setting. Once again, Pete found the perfect shot, and, using his wonderful ageing technique again, he’s given the naturally golden glow of the valley an extra shot of oomph! I think the cover is truly beautiful.

Both covers have made me very happy. I think they both speak to what the reader can expect within the book, as well as being very attractive pieces in their own right. Of course I hope that potential readers, and those who’ve reached the end of the books, agree. They also FEEL great in the hand—so hats off to the printers and finishers for that: how a book feels is very important to me, and they have a delightfully cool, smooth, matte finish to them, which I like in the hand (oh dear, I’m stroking one as I type!).

Now we’re working on the cover of my third Cait Morgan Mystery, The Corpse With the Emerald Thumb, which will be published in the spring of 2014. It’s set on the Pacific coast of Mexico in a small municipality which has a resort along the beachfront and tequila-producing agave plantations in the hills. Again, there are a lot of photographs available of this naturally beautiful area, it’s just a matter of finding the right one. If Pete’s track record is anything to go by—he’ll do it again.

So, whether you’re one of those who does, or one of those who doesn’t, judge a book by its cover, please know that this author, for one, tries to make sure that her books are presented to you with the best possible cover for each book.  All I can hope is that you like the title enough to pull the book from the shelf; that you like the cover enough to read a little; that you like the snippet you read to buy or borrow the book . . . and that you enjoy each book so much that you head out actively looking for the next one!

About Cathy Ace:

Welsh Canadian mystery author Cathy Ace is the creator of the Cait Morgan Mysteries, which include The Corpse with the Silver Tongue and The Corpse with the Golden Nose. Born, raised, and educated in Wales, Cathy enjoyed a successful career in marketing and training across Europe, before immigrating to Vancouver, Canada, where she taught on MBA and undergraduate marketing programs at various universities. Her eclectic tastes in art, music, food, and drink have been developed during her decades of extensive travel, which she continues whenever possible. Now a full-time author, Cathy’s short stories have appeared in multiple anthologies, as well as on BBC Radio 4. She and her husband are keen gardeners, who enjoy being helped out around their acreage by their green-pawed Labradors.

Connect with Cathy:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads

Buy the book:
Amazon | B&N | Powell’s Books | Book Depository

Tour Participants:

July 18 – A Blue Million Books: Guest Post

July 19 – Melina’s Book Blog: Review & Guest Post

July 20 – Kaisy Daisy’s Corner: Review & Giveaway

July 21 – Cozy Up With Kathy: Interview

July 22 – THE SELF-TAUGHT COOK: Review

July 23 – Storeybook Reviews: Review & Giveaway

July 24 – readalot blog: Review & Giveaway

July 26 – Books-n-Kisses: Review & Interview

July 28 – Brooke Blogs-Review, Guest Post, & Giveaway

July 29 – Mochas, Mysteries and More - Guest Post

July 30 – Escape With Dollycas-Guest Post & Review

July 31 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading: Review & Interview

August 1 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard: Interview

August 2 – Socrates’ Book Review Blog: Review


  1. Fantastic Post!!! Thanks for being part of this tour!

    1. Glad you like the post - it was fun to think about and write! Hope you enjoy the books too.

  2. Great post to kick off the tour! Cathy, I loved hearing about your cover designs. They do indeed evoke some of those Golden Age classics that I love.

    1. So glad you like them, Lark. They really do evoke a sense of place, I think. Hope you enjoy what they enclose too!

  3. Hello folks - my thanks to Amy for having me here today. I really enjoyed writing this guest blog. How do you feel about the role of covers? I'm REALLY interested to know!

    1. I'm happy to have you here, Cathy. I think covers are extremely important to a book's success. Just my two-cents worth!

  4. Great topic for this post. I love the covers for Cathy's books and had actually mistaken them for paintings initially.

    1. Thanks for that, Louis. I know what you mean about them looking like paintings - quite a few people at a book signing I did last weekend, in the very area where THE CORPSE WITH THE GOLDEN NOSE is set, told me they "recognized the artist". I had to try to persuade them they were looking at a photograph!

  5. I hate to admit it, but the cover is really important when I am looking for a new series - although strangely enough, only for cozies. I don't like the covers to look too cartoon-y or romance-y. If the cover is off-putting, I likely won't read the series unless someone REALLY recommends it.

    1. Yes, Cyndy, I know what you mean about a new series. Once you've read one book, you "know what you're in for", but when the characters and style of story are new to me, I look to the cover art for "clues". Sorry about the pun...I think! ;-)

  6. Nice review, and I do look at covers, that doesn't necessarily make up my mind, but it is one factor I look at.

  7. Great post. Good luck with the tour. Some of the best books I ever read I only picked up because the cover caught my eye. Love both your books and the covers.

    1. Thanks for the good wishes,'s my first! Of course I'm pleased that you like both my covers and books - phew! Next spring seems like a long way off, right now, but at least I'm beginning to feel that my covers are working well with the books, so we can try to keep going in that direction for the third one.

  8. Wonderful post. I look at the covers, but read the backs to help me pick out the ones I read. Your are great.

    1. Hi Sherry - I agree...the cover notes are so important, and I know that both my publisher and I spend quite a lot of time per word on them! I'm glad you like the covers, and hopefully also the cover notes. Thanks for dropping by Sherry.

  9. Thank you, Kaye, Kate, and Sherry for stopping by!

  10. Okay, I admit it. I actually decorate with books and have bought some STRICTLY because the covers are brilliant blue and make me happy merely to look at them.
    Great post, Cath! And yes, I will cry if my publisher doesn't give me a cover I like. (Good so far...)

    1. Hi Melodie - thanks for stopping by and for commenting. I know what you mean about books as decoration. In my writing room I'm surrounded by bookshelves, which I love. There's one shelf that's an entire collection of Agatha Christies, all bound in red with gold decoration. If you check out the You Tube video of me reading form THE CORPSE WITH THE GOLDEN NOSE that's on the opening page of my website ( can see them beside me!


Thanks to spammers, these comments must be moderated. If you're legit, your comment will show up once we've seen it!