Grief’s a strange thing in a way, isn’t it? We all know intellectually that every single one of us is one day going to, in the words of Hamlet, “shuffle off this mortal coil” and travel to “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns.” But most of us don’t dwell on the concept over much, and it we grieve the loss, even of those who have been here a long time.
One thing I’m really glad about, though, is the cover of my first novel... which may seem like a pretty flagrant non sequitur at first glance, so bear with me.
Dad spent his career as a commercial artist, and he was a damned good one. A craftsman of the old school, he began as a lithographic apprentice in England in the 1930s. He also loved painting fine art, chiefly landscapes, and I have many memories of him loading us all up in the family car on Sunday afternoons to head out into the country to photograph grain elevators, abandoned barns and homesteads --- anything that looked like it would make a dramatic painting.
He also would do covers for the endless secondary school reports I had to write, and this is where my novel cover comes in.
A couple of years ago, even before my first novel was going through the self-publication process and I was mulling over things like cover design, I had an inspiration and asked dad whether he’d like to do a painting of a gryphon. He may have raised his eyebrows a little, as I recall, because fantasy was never his gig, and in fact his reading tastes were almost universally nonfiction. But I provided him with several pictures and illustrations from numerous sources, and he said gamely that he’d give it a try. I was delighted with the result, and when it actually came time to select a book jacket design, I decided it was good enough to grace the front cover. So it did, and you can view his work for yourself.
I’m really glad now that I did. It was kind of like the last title page he did for me.
Thanks, dad. For the cover... and for everything.