This cover was difficult. At first, Jessamyn and I didn't want anything as literal as a dog -- not to mention the very dog used as a character. But nothing I could come up with worked.
Finally, Jessamyn sent a picture of the dog on a trail, a slope with log-braced steps. As a straight shot I could see it would never work.
Eventually I was able to strip away the reality of color, slope and vegetation, while keeping a sense of the stairs. It was very difficult, but eventually instead of "dog on a slope" I had "dog on a hill."
I think I had more "close, but nope" versions of this cover than of any other, but in the end it turned out to be a favorite.
If I were doing it again, I think I'd stop the image before the left margin, and maybe break the stairs into two sections.
The Inugami Mochi