It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post, and tonight’s may be shorter than usual. I just wanted to share a new book cover I created for the eBook edition of my Great Depression novel, Face the Winter Naked.
Although the book has been out a number of years, in both print and digital, and has been my bestseller all along, I was never satisfied with the cover art that I paid for. Yes, that cover fits the story, especially with the sepia coloring for the time period. But it doesn’t tell what the story is about, just that it takes place in the Great Depression. To learn who the characters are, to experience with them their sadness, their fear, and their hopelessness, one must read the blurb and the book’s description.
There’s nothing in the old cover about some of the most colorful characters, specifically, the old hobo I call “the banjo man.” I missed him on the original cover. But the artist surprised me by putting my dad’s picture on that cover, and it made me jump for joy. My dad fit the setting, and, although this isn’t his story, I have to admit I gave my main character, Daniel Tomelin, some of Dad’s characteristics.
Daddy died when I was three, and my only memory of him was of Mini-Me sitting on his lap in a rocking chair while he sang and made up stories. So it was important for me to use his hillbilly mannerisms and speech, his musical and artistic talents—a cabinet maker by trade and a whittler for something to keep his fingers busy when he wasn’t strumming this or that musical instrument. I used what little I’d learned about Dad while growing up; but for my character Daniel, I took artistic license and stretched it a bit for the sake of a good story.
But through all these years, I could not get the image of George, the banjo man, out of my mind and my heart. I don’t know who he was. He just came from nowhere, or from deep in my subconscious, this sad human who represented all the tragedies of the Great Depression rolled into one man. The banjo man played a major role in Face the Winter Naked—I hope he survived, but doubt he did. During the writing, old George became real enough to me to outlast my original plot.
Last week, I designed a new cover for the Face the Winter Naked eBook—the original stays on the paperback edition—and I placed that old hobo in a prominent spot beside a railroad track with his banjo and a pack on his back.
As mentioned in my bio, I was born at the height of the Depression. My family was poor, but we survived. My eldest brother always said we were poor but we didn’t know we were poor. I suppose there’s a certain acceptance among children from that era. We received commodities from the county and charity baskets from church at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We ate beans, cornbread, and canned milk, and bathed once a week in a round galvanized wash tub—one tub of water to last through four dirty kids and two adults. That’s unimaginable now….
Today I celebrate a new book cover for Face the Winter Naked. I hope you like it, and also hope you’ll take the time to read about Daniel Tomelin, the banjo man, and the rest of the characters in the story. It is not a true story, yet in many respects, it is as true as I could make it.
(The new cover will update soon at B&N, Apple, Kobo.)
Peace and love,