OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — An Auburn resident is combining history and art in a new coloring book that features the 67 counties of Alabama.

Author Laura Murray's book "Amazing Alabama: A Coloring Book Journey Through Our 67 Counties" will have an illustration of each individual county's iconic and lesser-known sites as well as a companion text that provides context for each illustration.

Showcasing Alabama's history

Murray said she got the idea for the book when she and her husband were visiting the Alabama Book Festival in May 2016.

"I've always collected coloring books," Murray said. "If I go into a museum or a quirky little book shop, I always look for coloring books, especially local ones. My husband and I were at the Alabama Book Festival last May and I was on a mission to find an Alabama coloring book and I couldn't find one."

With the encouragement from her husband, Murray decided to draw an Alabama coloring book of her own.

Murray used her 15-plus years in marketing and graphic design to come up with some drawings that she sent to a friend at New South Books in Montgomery, who then emailed Murray back immediately about having a meeting.

"I had a book deal before I even really knew what the book was going to be like," Murray said. "It was a fast process. "Last May was the book festival and I finished all of the drawings in January, so right at nine months and it took me another month to finalize the copy."

Coming up with drawings for the counties were easy for some, but harder for others, according to Murray.

"I started with the Encyclopedia of Alabama and read everything about that county that I could find along with the National Register of Historic Places," Murray said. "Some of the difficult counties, I went straight to the National Register and found out what buildings were historic and what buildings the county had put a lot of resources in to taking care of it. I use all of those resources and when I was stumped I tried to find somebody that I knew that was either from that county or had lived there or worked there."

Writing vs. drawing

Murray said she prefers drawing over writing.

"I've always loved to draw," Murray said. "Drawing just helps that creative outlet for me. I never really thought I was going to write much copy in this book, but I really found the need to explain what I was drawing."

Murray said it is great that her book is coming out during the state's bicentennial, which is celebrating Alabama places this year.

She said she wants to make her book a companion piece for fourth graders learning about Alabama history.

"We visited a fourth grade class in Montgomery a couple of weeks ago," Murray said. They loved it. There are fun things that you can find, but had there not been a graphic representation of it in this book, it wouldn't be quite as interesting."

The book is going to appeal to both adults and children, according to Murray.

"It's a coloring book, but it doesn't have to be a coloring book," Murray said. "This book can be used in classrooms to educate children and to really pique their interest in a different way. I want adults to sit down and color this book and learn something new about the state that they never knew before."

Murray is currently working on a county-by-county coloring book of Georgia, which has 159 counties. She said her goal is to do a book for all 50 states.

"I'm not sure if I'm going to get through all of them," Murray said. "I love to draw and I love to try new things."

Upcoming events

The book is available at Books A Million, The Local Market, J&M Bookstore and at the Jule Collins Smith Museum. It can also be purchased online at New South Books, Books A Million, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Murray's website at www.lauramurraycreative.com.

Upcoming events include a launch day at The Local Market in downtown Auburn on Nov. 1 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and a book signing at Books A Million in Opelika on Nov. 11 at 2 p.m.

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Information from: Opelika-Auburn News, http://www.oanow.com/