About a dozen years ago I took a picture of one of the many abandoned buildings in Oaxaca. I walked past this building nearly every day. It can still be seen (although transformed) on the corner of Reforma and Constitution Streets just across from the famous Botanical Garden behind the beautiful Santo Domingo church. It occurred to me at the time that this picture would make the perfect cover for a novel I’d been thinking about for years (Behind The Locked Door). I filed the picture away in my poorly designed digital filing system but it stayed in my mind. Often in the middle of a sleepless night when I was playing with ideas for the novel I could see that picture in my mind’s eye. Over the years I walked past the building on my way to some of my favorite restaurants (El Olivo, La Olla, Marisqueria la Playita) and parks (Llano and Confetti). It’s half a block from where I always stay when in Oaxaca (Casa de las Bugambilias). I crafted characters and scenes and imagined a strange garden behind the door. Eventually many of these ideas surfaced in the novel. You can see the very first picture I took below.
Notice the street light. It has changed over time as you will see but I made sure to use the one in this picture, the one I saw the first time I encountered the building. I only needed one door and I preferred the one on the left where the iron grate was intact and the colors were more vibrant. The light would have to have to be moved.
I was not the only one who appreciated the beauty of this old building. A few years ago I spotted an article about the culture of Oaxaca in Vogue and there it was, the building with the door I loved so much. You can watch the video if you CLICK ON THIS LINK. I captured the picture below from the beginning of the video.
Over the years the building deteriorated, the colors faded and the street light was replaced with a more modern looking variety. I was not happy with the changes. The building was in a prime location. I knew it would eventually be demolished or rebuilt. Below you can see a few recent (2019) pictures of the building with the changes to date. I was told that when the remodel was complete the building would serve as the new location of the Museo de Filatelia de Oaxaca (stamp museum). The current museum is just up a bit further up Reforma Street.
With the assistance of Cypress House and Chuck Hathaway my picture was ultimately transformed into the cover of my novel. I am proud of the way it looks and hope you like it. If you read the novel and come across the scenes in a mysterious garden Behind The Locked Door, you now know that garden is something I imagined behind a real door that caught my eye while strolling along a beautiful street in Oaxaca.
by David Herstle Jones
Buy now: Behind The Locked Door is available in Mendocino from Gallery Books, Moore Books, and the Mendocino Public Library; in Fort Bragg from The Bookstore and the Fort Bragg Public Library; from my Think in the Morning website or my Mendocino office (above Mendocino Market) and from most online sites (Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble).