A month and a half ago Chris Brannan, Purdue University Press’s graphic artist, contacted me about the cover design for my forthcoming book. He asked me to send him a few nature photos I’d taken and then select several more from a large collection of high-resolution online stock photos the Press had access to. In total, I sent him about 40 JPEGs. Ten were my own, and at least 30 were from the stock collection.  

To my surprise, Chris chose one of my photographs. It was of a line of rowboats along a dock on a quiet foggy morning. I told Chris I was happy with his overall concept for the cover. I also wrote a short blurb about the photo and requested it appear somewhere in the copyright pages of the book. The blurb explained the photo had been taken at my cousin Tom McEwen’s small resort in Hazelhurst, Wisconsin. Tom died of a brain tumor just after Christmas, and I wanted to dedicate the cover photo to him. 

Almost immediately after I sent my email, Katherine Purple, the Purdue University Press’s editorial manager and the woman responsible for putting my manuscript into book form, emailed me back to say all of her summer vacations as a young girl had been spent in Hazelhurst, Wisconsin. She had been named after Katherine Lake, a large body of water not a mile from my cousin’s resort. She wrote, “The highlight of my life was pulling a huge muskie out of Katherine Lake on my regular, lightweight pole with just a worm.” 

I don’t know if I should call this coincidence, serendipity, or synchronicity, but I can’t help but believe Chris picked the right photo for my book. 

Steven Simpson