First Draft mock-up (not final!)
Today’s book covers rarely contain original artwork, mostly due to the expense. Novelist, scientist, photographer, wife and mother Elena Giorgi @eegiorgi creates book covers from her own photos and by photoshopping jpeg images for sale online. She’s been working with me to create a cover for “Ironwolf.” She’s incredibly patient and kind, but I now see why publishers do not allow authors any input into the book cover. I’m embarrassed at myself for all the times I say “But that’s not how I intended it.” The mood, atmosphere, feeling, the “look” of each character, the model of the plane (shut up Carol).
Love the vintage look and color, composition, mood
This painting was done by my neighbor Vicki, a nurse, military wife and mother of three who has no formal training as an artist. “I painted that in 1972 as a gift for Harry’s dad for Christmas the year we were married,” she says. “His dad loved spending time out here on the farm and I used a photo of him on the tractor to paint him into the picture.” Vicki’s tribute to her father-in-law captures the sentiment I feel for the father in my novel. She captures a sense of motion on canvas, not just in the tree branches swaying against the turbulent blue sky, but in the very ground itself. Call me impressed. As an amateur artist, I know how challenging it is to capture a sense of motion. This painting sings with vitality and rhythm. But would it make a good book cover?
I think so. (Just add that airplane dive-bombing his field.)
My husband (an electrical engineer with no training as an artist) also shows incredible natural talent. His painting of my grandpa on a tractor would make a good book cover:
The “look” of Elena’s cover is right in keeping with today’s trends. For example:
The ghostly face in the sky on Ironwolf represents the heroine’s father (it’s actually my grandpa, photoshopped in by Elena). Biplane came with the girl (stock image for sale online). She looks a little dreamy, which the heroine is, but Kate Eisen is also a hard-as-nails race pilot, which may not come across here. So far, Elena’s cover is (no contest!) a winner. You can see how much extra work she’s put into the stock photo. Most people like this cover, but a small number (mostly family) insist the cover should show the dad on the tractor, shaking his fist at the sky. To me, the book cover should celebrate the woman pilot who soars in spite of her rural community’s low expectations of girls and prohibitions against doing anything “dangerous.”
In 1991, Patty Wagstaff became the first woman to win the title of U.S. National Aerobatic Champion, a title she then defended in 1992 and 1993. This would be an awesome book cover, no? My novel is set in the early 1990s and Patty has “the look” – while stock photos of models posing as pilots have a very distinct 21st Century look.
World War II era women had their own distinctive look too:
Mary Helen Foster arrived in the Malden Army Airfield in Missouri in 1944. Her commanding officer took one look at her and said, “I didn’t ask for a woman pilot.” She replied, “I did not ask to come to Missouri, sir.” One of more than 1,700 women chosen for the groundbreaking Women Air force Service Pilots program during World War II, Foster tested aircraft for maintenance and ensured they were safe for use in combat, despite the discrimination she faced along the way.
Hiuaz Kairovna Dospanova: the only female pilot & navigator from Kazakhstan to serve during WWII. From May 1942 she served as navigator & later became head of communication of the 46th Guards Night Bomber Regiment—referred to as the Night Witches. Dospanova made 300+ combat missions & was injured in 1943 while landing in blackout conditions. She survived the crash but fractured her legs. 3 months later, she returned to keep fighting, going all the way to Berlin for victory.
Maureen Dunlop leaving the cockpit of a plane she had just flown in 1944. These female pilots of the British Air Transport Auxiliary flew Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancasters to air bases in England during WWII.
Jane Doyle flew the PT-17 and AT-6 during World War II. She and other WASPS (Women Airforce Service Pilots) eventually received the Congressional Gold Medal.
I wish I could say Ironwolf pays tribute to the brave woman who flew war planes in a time when women weren’t supposed to do such things. The story I wrote is only about one woman and the father who discouraged her from following her dreams. It’s also his story.