Cover photo for Twisted Vine by Toby Neal

Yes, I've had to change the title of the 5th Lei book to Twisted Vine, dropping the “s”. When I chose the title over a year ago, there weren't any books out called that, but now there are several.

I considered changing it to “Twisting Vine” but not only does it not roll off the tongue, people have been searching for Twisted Vine(s) on Amazon and in Google since I first put the title out there, already establishing a presence for it–which will be lost if I give up the overused first word, let alone choose a different title entirely.


Apparently I have to write EVEN FASTER to grab my titles before other people do! 

On to the story of the photo shoot.  Mike Neal and I have learned through much trial and error, that the best photos for the Lei Crime Novel covers are done “studio style” with total control of the lighting and subject, etc. For more details, check out our Broken Ferns shoot here.

Well, first I collected vines of various kinds. My niece and nephew helped. We raided the yard of their house in Haiku, harvesting at least four types of tropicals. When I came home, I realized I actually had the best vines, lilikoi or “passion fruit” that were growing in layers. I also had ivies and monsterra, a decorative elephant-ear type of vine. But I'd had an idea in mind, as I usually do, of a “twisted” section of vine with some curling new growth.

Mike tried various kinds of vines in several locations but there was too much ambient light coming in. We ended up making a room into a photo booth, draping it with nonreflective black weed cloth and suspending the chosen section of vine from the ceiling via transparent fishing line. He then placed spotlights at several key points and shot the vine from the doorway with his camera on a tripod.

So, if you are ever in need of a “studio” with controllable light, a room without windows, draped in weedcloth, can work nicely as long as your wife is not the “assistant.”

I apparently do way too many suggestions, giggles, and jumping into the frame to adjust things. Somehow we always get the shot, and are still married.

Twisted Vine Cover photo

Twisted Vine Cover photo designer Julie Metz is working with.




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