The manuscript was very visceral and dealt with a lot of difficult themes about a little girl growing up in the south. The goal was to convey a sense of tranquility amongst the chaotic trauma that the little girl had been through. By using fire as a theme to do that, it also ties into a major plot point without out giving away too much of the story and keeping it vague enough.
Rather than using a photograph of fire, colored construction paper was cut into several different flame shapes and scanned into the computer to make a more stylistic arrangement. I think that lent itself to a more raw and handcrafted look, which made it more unique than using a photo.
When presented to the author, her reaction was that she absolutely loved it. The author said could relate and see herself as the main character that is presented on the cover.