My guest today is the lovely Anne Barwell, my fellow Dreamspinner Press author. She’s here to reveal the cover to her upcoming release, On Wings of Song, which is now available for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press! And what a gorgeous cover it is, by cover artist T.L. Bland (Dreamspinner’s cover artists are the best, truly!). Be sure to read down for an excerpt from Anne’s book.
Welcome, Anne! -Shira
Thanks, Shira, for hosting me today J
One of the most exciting parts of having a story published is the cover. I’d decided before I wrote On Wings of Song that I wanted TL Bland to do the cover for it, as she’d done such a great job for Shades of Sepia.
I often start thinking about what I want on a cover while I’m still writing the story. I know it’s kind of horse before cart—out of order—but it’s part of my writing process, although what I want sometimes changes with the story.
Music plays an important part in On Wings of Song, so it needed to be represented somehow. It’s very much a part of who Aiden is until the war rips it away from him. I’m on a music bent this year, but that’s part of who I am and what I tend to write. In some stories it’s more of a background thing with characters being musicians, but with this one, it literally needed to be centre stage.
Jochen and Aiden swap uniform buttons during the Christmas Truce, as they have nothing else to exchange as gifts. Many soldiers on that day gave each other buttons. When I read about it while I was researching the Truce, I knew it was something I wanted to include in the story. Those buttons become much more than a memento for both men, and therefore needed to be represented on the cover too. Finding decent photographs for them was more of a problem than I thought it would be, given the rarity and age of them now. There are plenty of descriptions out there, but not many photographs.
The first part of On Wings of Song takes place during WWI, and six years pass before Aiden and Jochen see each other again. That feeling of a mix of past and present is captured perfectly with the sepia tones of the cover and it being two scenes rather than one. The characters are spot on—I usually cast my characters before I write. That way when I’m asked to provide descriptions, I have something visual as well as text.
I’m thrilled with the cover. I showed it to someone at work—I work in a library so we’re all about books—and was told that it looks like one of mine. I hadn’t thought of that before, of covers representing the kind of books I write, but it makes a lot of sense. The books I write are in part a reflection of who I am, and the covers are very much a part of that too.
TL Bland has done a great job in capturing the story and essence of On Wings of Song. It’s not only a great cover, but fits perfectly as part my growing collecting of covers I have framed on my wall.
You can see more of TL Bland’s work at her website: http://www.thruterryseyes.com/
On Wings of Song
Six years after meeting British soldier Aiden Foster during the Christmas Truce of 1914, Jochen Weber still finds himself thinking about Aiden, their shared conversation about literature, and Aiden’s beautiful singing voice. A visit to London gives Jochen the opportunity to search for Aiden, but he’s shocked at what he finds.
The uniform button Jochen gave him is the only thing Aiden has left of the past he’s lost. The war and its aftermath ripped everything away from him, including his family and his music. When Jochen reappears in his life, Aiden enjoys their growing friendship but knows he has nothing to offer. Not anymore.
“I’ve seen it,” Aiden said quietly. “I wish to God I hadn’t.” He looked directly at Jochen.
Jochen met Aiden’s gaze. He’d seen an echo of Conrad’s fire in Aiden when he’d talked about his music earlier that afternoon.
“Don’t die on the wire, Aiden.”
“I’ll try not to.” Aiden’s words were an empty promise. They both knew it, but what else was he going to say?
The red-haired man Aiden had spoken to about arranging the burials walked over to him. He too held a shovel, and he wiped perspiration from his brow despite the cold. “There’s going to be a combined service for the dead,” he told them. “In about ten minutes in no man’s land in front of the French trenches.”
As they made their way over, men were already beginning to gather, soldiers from opposite sides sitting together, conversation dwindling to a respectful silence. A British chaplain stood in front of them, a Bible in his hand, a German beside him. Jochen recognized him, although he didn’t know his name. The young man was only a few years older than Jochen and was studying for the ministry—would he ever get the chance to complete those studies?
Jochen and Aiden found somewhere to sit a few rows back from the front and joined the company of men. The German spoke first. “Vater unser, der du bist im Himmel. Geheiligt werde dein Name.”
The British chaplain repeated the words in English. “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name.”
They then spoke a few words each, some from the Bible, the rest from their hearts. Their congregation was silent apart from a few quiet “amens.” Jochen saw a couple of men wipe tears away. He was close to it himself.
Finally the chaplain bowed his head in prayer. When he’d finished, he spoke quietly to the man who had come to stand next to him. It was Captain Williams. He nodded and looked over the crowd, his gaze fixing on Aiden.
Aiden must have guessed what Williams wanted. He inclined his head in response and then stood. Jochen glanced between the two men, confused. What did Williams expect Aiden to do?
“Aiden?” Jochen asked softly.
Aiden smiled at him and began to sing. “O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining….” He lifted his head, his voice strong and clear, each note building on the last to create something truly beautiful, something angelic. Aiden’s eyes shone; his body swayed slightly in time with the music. He was the music.
His audience sat in awe. Jochen could feel the emotion rippling through the men around him, tangible, as though he could reach out and touch it. He felt something inside himself reach out, wanting to be a part of it, to be carried along the wave of pure music, to grab it and never let go.
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.
In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.
She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.
Coffee Unicorns: http://coffeeunicorns.wordpress.com/
Dreamspinner Press Author Page: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_426