This painting, I call The Village, represents the buzz, colour and activity that is at the heart of every traditional community. It has represented Zulu’s Community for a number of years now and it seems appropriate to showcase it here on Accidental Aid Worker. The Village is very dear to my heart. I picked up this original ‘Tingatinga’ style oil painting in Zanzibar, Tanzania on my travels in 1999. The artist’s name is Hoja. I have searched for Hoja in vain over the years but haven’t been able to track him/her, so I give credit here.


The cover – life and community is a puzzle or maybe always a work in progress

The concept for the cover I had from before putting finger to keyboard in a serious way on the book. I wanted to tell my story, which is like a puzzle, and had ideas about selling ‘pieces of the puzzle’ as tokens for a crowd funding campaign. It was a little early days for that though and I initially needed a simple cover and identity to help me brand the book project.

I asked my long-time friend Alina, who is a graphic designer, to help me put together a simple cover concept based on the village painting. Cover no 1 was created. It immediately helped to position me and my story as unique, distinctive and easily recognisable. This cover and waiting became the brand for the “memoir in the making” stage of the project (March 2012-2015).

In preparation for the “book shower’ event in June 2015 and had some puzzles made of the painting. I thought it would be quirky – and it was! I took some photos of the puzzle and stage 2 cover was born – it was a hit and everyone! They loved the quirkiness and creativity of the concept.  After doing research on book cover designs, I felt I needed to take the puzzle concept a step closer to my vision. When I was ready to get serious about the cover design, I called Alina and she insisted she do this for me! (Thank you Alina – your work is beautiful! )

To prepare, I sketched out what I wanted on a piece paper. On a night when I needed a break from writing, I set up a wooden chopping board on my coffee table and did the 257 piece puzzle while ‘watching’ TV. When completed, I went and picked out all the pieces where I thought the text would go and took about 50 different photos of my distinctively bejewelled and adorned hand doing the puzzle. Awkward as it was and without proper lighting, using only my iPhone6 in my left hand (I’m right handed) – I managed to eventually get the right shot. This became the cover image for Accidental Aid Worker. I also really wanted to use puzzle piece shapes to frame the photos of key people to bring the design concept onto the back cover and spine.

Making the most of the inside cover real estate – my brief was to make the photos look like they have been dumped, scattered randomly on a table. Choosing significant photos from literally thousands in my collection was difficult! I chose the images that I felt breathed life into the tales I tell in the book. I chose to print the inside covers in full colour in lieu of producing a separate colour insert for images. It is this feature that is unique and special to the limited edition memento copy of Accidental Aid Worker that is only available directly from me or with selected retailers and distributors.

Print-on-demand books will not allow for printing on the inside covers or in colour – so part of the specialness of the limited edition copy are the photographs.


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