It went like this:
'I'm seeing yellow, aren't you?' Said Paddy Tyson as we brain stormed a cover. We had just looked at about 20 other motorcycle travel book covers and discussed and analyzed them.
'Ureka, it's an epiphany, a flash of brilliance a ray of light, we need light' he said
'So it won't be black then? Like, how black can it be?'
'Yellow, and a lot of the journey was centred around Mount Ararat so let's have that on cover, Eastern Turkey, Armenian, the Iran aspect of the book. Plus it’s the place when Noah's Ark supposedly came to land when the floods subsided so that's significant, land is essential in an overland journey.'
This seems to be one mans visions and I'm not about to interrupt him, he's on a roll.
Then the eternal dilemma for any motorcycle book, do we put a bike on the cover? The argument being - if you have a bike on the cover it will appeal to motorcyclists but may alienate everyone else who would like it but are immediately put off, judging a book by its cover. However don’t put a bike on the cover and people with an interest in motorcycles will just pass it by. This was two years after my first book had come out, my name alone would not say 'motorcycle travel'.
OK what about just a bit of a bike, something that if you know you know, and if you really know, you know it’s a KLR. We look as some photos I have of the bike, luckily being a solo traveller there is no shortage, as it stands in the foreground and in my opinion enhances most sites I've photographed.
'The poppy one works and this year (2014) will be the 100 year of the anniversary of the start of the First World War so the poppy will be very relevant' says Paddy,and then in full flow 'lets make the epiphany light an Art Deco design to keep the 100 year theme'
It's all sounding great; I love this creative process, although to be fair my contribution ended with the completion of the manuscript. So we have the theme, the iconic mountain, the Art Deco epiphany, a bit of bike and the poppy theme which is relevant for many reasons, not least, that the journey took me into Iraq, Armenia, Georgia and former Yugoslav states. In fact what country didn't have war in its history? Its poignancy is based on was it in living memory, the Ark landing wasn't. There was one more thing we wanted to depict, the ex-communist countries I rode through and that's when I came up with Buzludzha. The Bulgaria flying saucer shaped monument built to house the Bulgaria Communist Party. A place that can now be seen just a 5 minute ride from my house is but I didn’t know at the time I would end up living in such close proximity to this photogenic and symbolic structure.
OK technically it should be on the top of the hill but not Mount Ararat, its location on the cover is more about what it symbolised than accurate geographically location.
And that was it, all the ingredients were there. I can't really take any credit for the cover it was the work and vision of Paddy Tyson but I love it, it's a striking image and does justice to the story within.
Now why don’t we spell Eureka with a 'U' as in U-turn, as the story is about the U-turn on the edge of the Caspian Sea that bought about this Eureka moment. A spectacularly clever idea, and massive mistake, too damn clever. People who knew how to spell couldn’t find it in a Google search.
'Eureka with a U' it may of well be called, like 'Lemmy from Motorhead' it just needs a further explanation. So the reprint has an added 'E' but now everything is screwed up, ISBN numbers, Amazon reviews. It's just a mess.
I really was unsure, should I keep this personal, it is after all quite invasive surgery, my Bulgarian teacher said ‘your books are very personal perhaps you should share this too.’
Sam Manicom suggested posting on my behalf, I was reluctant, I’m not a fan of sympathy seeking posts “hugs hon, thinking of ya’’ I do remember when I posted a photo of myself hooked up to a drip last year with kidney stones the response was overwhelming I could see how someone could get addicted to such things.
An extract from Ureka
The streets are lined with pavement cafes endless tables of mostly older gentlemen drinking chai whilst indulging in their weekly catch up. I see a phone shop, I bet I can get a new memory card there; I pull up and weave my way through the maze of tables on the pavement. I can’t quite explain what I need so I go back to my bike to get an example, all be it 4 times the size. An elderly Muslim gentlemen calls out to me
‘Monsieur we would be honoured if you would drink chai with us’
Ang on, I’m in the middle on a transaction here.
‘One moment sir, I’ll be right back’ I continue with my quest, he looks at my memory card, understands exactly what I need and confirms he hasn’t got anything like that at all. I go and sit with the chai drinkers.
Having just finished Ureka, my talented, witty and modest friend Bob Staunch, felt inspired to write this song. He sampled my voice, edited it and took my ramblings out of context, making for a funny but incredibly catchy little ditty.
Warning it's a bit of an ear worm.