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Here, of course, I'm making the cover for my own book.  For a long time I was trying to use a shot of a cockatoo lying dead in an open doorway, the exact scene described in the story "Namesakes." Although in real life the cockatoo's journey to the doorway unfolded very differently, I still thought it would work. But technically, I couldn't get it done.

 

I remembered that I had a slide of an old woman I knew -- Osiropa -- in her finery. And there was red paint on her face, and the long shell ear-pieces in her ears figured into one of the myths I used between the stories. And even better, Osiropa was the mother of the man on whom I based the character Siro, although of course no one but I knew that (now I've let the secret out).

 

I had to make a couple of decisions. One was whether to thoroughly clean the color slide before scanning, and I decided not to. The other was whether to put the subtitle on the cover, which I did do. Smaller issues were whether to let Osiropa's eye sockets go black, which I did because I wanted her face to fade into the background a little. The reason for this is that the mythical Red Woman is, after all, a creature of myth. So I thought I'd better throw a little uncertainty at Osiropa's image.

 

 

Don Mitchell

A Red Woman Was Crying