Cover Love . . . with Michelle Rawlins

Posted on 16th July, 2021


This week, I am delighted to welcome Michelle Rawlins to my blog. Michelle is the author of Women of Steel, which is the true story of those wartime women who kept the steel foundries going.


Inspired by the knowledge she gained from this research and from the extraordinary women who shared their tales with her, Michelle has now embarked upon creating a saga series.


She's here today to talk about why the book's cover means so much to her.

Photo by Scott Merrylees.


Cover Love by Michelle Rawlins


The cover for The Steel Girls makes me smile every time I look at it. Not only does it perfectly depict my main three main characters, but it is also symbolic of the journey my feisty wartime factory ‘sisters’ travelled.



The visualisation of Betty, Nancy and Patty, not only bring their vibrant and individual characters to life, it also is symbolic of a formidable band of women looked war in the eyes and made a vow to not just ‘do their bit’ but to do it with an extraordinary steely and determined resolve, in a bid to ensure their families were cared for and their menfolk came home.


They stood together, united; unexpected bonds created as women from all walks of life worked as one, with a single common goal – to do everything they could to support the Allied forces and to do it with enthusiasm and passion.


The Steel Girls sits in the saga genre, and the covers for these books, do follow a certain and distinguishable pattern. However, I am in complete awe of Design Director, Kate Oakley, at HQ stories, who with my editor, and input from myself, created the cover, with all its well thought out nuances and unique individuality.


When you begin researching, planning, and then writing a book, it’s natural to start envisaging what your characters look like. From what colour hair they have, how tall they are, their smile, the colour of their eyes and what they wear, it’s all part of the process. And for me it’s intrinsic. Every paragraph I write, each section of dialogue and the screens I create, I have the images and physical description of my characters in mind. I ask myself: ‘Is that what they would really say? Is that what they would wear? Am I doing them justice?’ I’m always incredibly grateful for my editor, Katie Seaman, who goes through my manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, to check and double check, that how I portray my characters is in keeping with their personalities.


The cover isn’t just about the personifications of the individuals in the book, although they do take centre stage, but it also sets the scene and is symbolic of a time in history, a bygone age; in The Steel Girls case – World War Two Sheffield. The muted background of the industrial factories, smoking chimneys and a deliberate nod to the RAF, with a Lancaster Bomber soaring through the blue skies of England, protecting King and country, are all the cleverly created imagery to set the over-arching tone and atmosphere of the book.


Much closer to home, the cover, strikes a personal chord with me. My five-year-old daughter, Tilly, is always asking me what my characters are up to now. ‘Are they having fun Mummy?’ is a constant question. I happily tell an occasional white lie, and say yes, especially if I’ve hit a point in the book when one of my characters are having a difficult time - after all Tilly is far too young to deal with the atrocities war threw at my women. Sometimes, I don’t need to lie though, as Patty – one of my Steel Girls, and my little girl’s favourite character, for no other reason that she’s the youngest, has ‘vanilla’ (blonde to you and me) hair, a pink headscarf, and red lipstick, does love the lighter side of life.


When the book was published, I had an identical headscarf made for my daughter, which she wears proudly and tells everyone she is Patty, from Mummy’s book, leaving my heart close to bursting.


So, for a myriad of different but equally significant reasons, The Steel Girls cover, is incredibly special to me and, as I said initially, never fails to make me smile.


* * * *




Sheffield, 1939. With war declared, these brave women will step up and do their bit for their country

Housewife Nancy never dreamed that she’d end up in Vickers steelworks factory but when husband Bert is called up to serve, she needs to put food on the table for her two young children.

Betty’s sweetheart William has joined the RAF Reserves so she can’t sit around and do nothing – even if it means giving up her ambitions to study law at night school.

Young Patty is relishing the excitement the war brings. But this shop-girl is going to have to grow up quickly, especially now she’s undertaking such back-breaking and dangerous work in the factory.

The Steel Girls start off as strangers but quickly forge an unbreakable bond of friendship as these feisty factory sisters vow to keep the foundry fires burning during wartime.

* * * *



Michelle's author page on Amazon 


Michelle on Twitter


Michelle's author page on Facebook  


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