Oct 222013

What was your intention for the cover?
I wanted the cover to reflect two things:

  • First, Mama’s Shoes is a story of a little coal-mining town 1940 – 1960. The main character, Sylvia, is a beautician in the town’s Cut and Curl Beauty Shop. The “shop” as they call it, and the women who frequent it, are at the heart of the story so I wanted the cover to show a beauty shop.
  • Second, the main character, Sylvia, is a beautiful woman known for her love of high heeled shoes, especially red ones. She dispenses advice on life to her twelve year old daughter by telling stories about shoes. I wanted the cover to depict shoes because as Sylvia’s daughter says in the book: “Mama always said you can tell a real lady by the shoes she wears, but then – nobody ever accused Mama of being a lady.”

How did you create the cover?
I looked at thousands of pictures! The one I found that I wanted to use was perfect except for the color. It was a color picture and the shoes were the wrong color. Since I teach photojournalism, I knew my way around Photoshop, so I made the picture black and white and the shoes red so the person looking at it would be drawn to the red shoes.

Are you happy with the end result?
I was thrilled with the end result! My publisher was too. I’ve been told by them that my cover has gotten a great deal of attention.

Is there anything you would change?

What do you think the cover says about your book?
My cover says this is a book for women about women. It has the red high heels of a care-free, lifestyle juxtaposed with the beauty shop chair depicting the working class woman. The cover should be the pictorial synopsis of your book and I wanted to create that for the cover of Mama’s Shoes.

Mama’s Shoes by Rebecca D. Elswick
Published by Abbott Press on Sept 29, 2011
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads

By the time Sylvia Richardson is eighteen, she has buried her parents; given birth to a daughter; and become a widow. It is 1942, and World War II has destroyed Sylvia’s dream of dancing in red heels through life to the melody of a Hank Snow record. Instead, she is raising her daughter, Sassy, alone in the coal mining town she vowed to leave behind.

By 1955, thirteen-year-old Sassy has been brought up on a stiff dose of Mama’s lessons on how to be a lady-even though Mama drinks, smokes, and dates a myriad of men. But everything changes the day a woman accuses Sylvia of trying to steal her husband, forcing Sassy to come to terms with her Mama’s harsh teen years. For Sylvia, only the support of kith and kin can rescue her from her mistakes.

Spanning twenty years, “Mama’s Shoes” is a haunting saga of love, despair, and forgiveness as a cadence of female voices weaves a spell of mountain lore and secrets, defines family as more than blood kin, and proves second chances can bring happiness.

My Thoughts: I think the cover reflects the era of the book setting quite well, and definitely says that this is a woman’s lit story. I like the pop of red on the shoes, but wish the title font was just a bit bigger.

What do you think of the cover? Does it make you want to pick up the book?

  2 Responses to “Cover interview: Rebecca D. Elswick”

  1. Hmm, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a cover interview before, so this is totally new — and totally cool — for me. I think it’s incredibly important to come up with the goal for your cover, and that’s something that kind of lacks from covers in YA fiction these days. Most of them, at least, because you can’t tell whether they’re part of the story, or if they’re just there to… be there. With no connection to the book at all.

    That’s why I think that the cover for MAMA’S SHOES was done really well — well done, Rebecca! It’s amazing that you were able to find that one perfect picture among so many, and I love how classy the end result is.

    Great interview, you two, and thanks for sharing, Sarah!

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