Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Last Daughter of Prussia has a Cover!

 Here it is!
The cover for my upcoming novel - The Last Daughter of Prussia.

  Happy Easter Everyone!
  The contract with my publisher Wild River Books has been successfully negotiated. The work is out of my hands and my characters—Manya, Joshi, Helling—whom I so dearly love will now be dialoguing with the final editor. 
  The pre-publication date will be in November 2012 and to all my loyal readers who have been asking repeatedly when the book will be out, I want to say that I will be having a book signing for hardback copies in Freeport, Grand Bahama and in Marsh Harbour, Abaco BEFORE Christmas. So stay tuned. I'll let you know via facebook and the newspapers etc. Others who can't be at the signings will be able to order copies. I'll send out all that information closer to the time.

  Working with my publishers Joy Stocke and Kim Nagy has been terrific. As we ironed out all the many details regarding international distribution, film rights, etc, I was impressed by their willingness to create a perfect alignment for all concerned. It really was a co-creative process made easier with the help of my wonderful lawyer friend, Ben Kavanaugh and my insightful husband, James Sarles.

  Now to the cover design. In the same way that people need clothes, my novel needed a cover—one that would fit its genre (historical romantic fiction) and appeal to those most likely to buy it. I think the cover—so elegantly created by Tim Ogline—does that. The elements are simple yet powerful and like a billboard they communicate the theme of the story which is one of survival and courage, beauty and devastation. I hope that people who see it will experience an eagerness to learn more about what is inside.

  In a previous blog post called What's in a Book Cover, I spoke about the process of choosing images for the cover design. In this particular post I'd like to share some insights about what the final images chosen represent and how they relate to The Last Daughter's story.

Trakehners on the dangerous trek across the ice

  Let me begin with the white horse on the cover. In the novel, her name is Shambhala. She stands for the brave Trakehner horses who, during the last bitter winter of WW2, fought to bring millions of East Prussians  to safety across the treacherous parts the Frisches Haff,  a frozen lagoon which was the only escape route open to the innocent fleeing civilians caught between the savagery of the invading Russian Army and Nazi orders prohibiting their evacuation. Like my heroine Manya von Falken (whose haunting eyes you see in the upper left hand corner), Shambhala also is a "last daughter" of Prussia. She represents the last of a Trakehner breed that was nearly wiped out in that war.

  A symbol of life force and strength, she is determined to move forward even though her eyes express that she knows she is leaving the good life behind. Never again will she canter across the soft earth of East Prussian meadows in spring, yet she is resolved to bring those she loves to safety, her hooves pounding at the snow which has made the path to freedom so difficult. Her animal spirit is intuitive. She recognizes her part along the tragic trail of history. She feels the weight of death and devastation on her back but she also senses that she might be a messenger of new beginnings.

Death and devastation after the massive Russian assault on an East Prussian city
Shambhala would have sensed this danger and carried on toward survival

  Some words now about the woman in the picture—Manya. Thank you to my talented photographer friend, Christine Matthäi who allowed us to use this photo. Thousands of stock photo images did not express what she captured in this pair of eyes. Not only can we see that Manya has a special connection to horses, but in her haunting gaze we sense that she has witnessed unspeakable horrors of war, rape and death. Like Shambhala, her eyes hold a vision for survival, yet there is a seriousness to her, a loneliness too, as though her struggle for life is being transversed through the pitch black channels of her focused pupils. She is strong, yet she knows that some part of her will always remain in East Prussia. As she looks through the snow, she sees the rich brown earth of the land her ancestors called home for countless generations (represented by the square containing the book's title) and she knows, despite her dreams for a better future that she will always be—a last daughter of Prussia.

East Prussian families fleeing on the trek
The travesties of war
Horses like these and Shambhala fought to keep their human companions alive.
They were true heroes.

  Finally, I just want to mention the use of color. Blue symbolizes faith. The story behind the cover is one that encompasses the travesties of war. It was not an easy story to write. Even so, throughout it all, the characters cling to threads of hope and love. Blue also represents military power—a threat that constantly hovers over the fleeing civilians—especially on clear days when Russian bombers have unobscured views—but blue is also a royal color that symbolizes strength, courage and devotion. So, for me, that blue sky is a link to heaven, to God and the possibility for change even though the white snow below means delay and death.

Until next time...

—Marina Gottlieb Sarles

1 comment:

  1. The cover is just STUNNING — so powerful and weaves all the elements of your amazing novel together. So thrilled and excited for you that this important story is being told. Congrats!