Stories from the road - Past and Present
by David C. Ellis
Special thanks to José Rodriguez, whose herculean effort as illustrator added a visual flair to the book.
- David C. Ellis
"David Ellis is a natural born storyteller. With quick wit and a quest for adventure, he has set off across the forgotten byways, perhaps to reclaim that spirit that conjures up visions of Route 66. As passengers on the great road trip we are offered the chance to meet those characters that made this country great as well as ponder the future."
-Randy Christensen, MD Author of "Ask Me Why I Hurt (2010)
When I first got the call from David Ellis, I had no idea who he was. But he asked me if I would consider creating the cover art for the book he was currently writing. I immediately said yes and made my way to his home, with portfolio in hand, ready to show him my work. As he perused page after page, not a word was spoken. An awkward feeling came over me and I sensed the project slipping from my hands. After closing the last page, he nonchalantly looked up at me and said, “I’ll call you next week and give you a copy of the book’s synopsis so that you can come up with a concept.” At that point, I still wasn’t sure if he was serious or if he’d even call back. But he did. Two days later I was invited back to his home to pick up the synopsis. We sat out in his patio overlooking a stunning view of Los Angeles. He handed me the synopsis and then proceeded to throw out a dollar amount. He had everything under control and I nodded in agreement. But I still wasn’t sure if we had a deal. He then said something that totally perplexed me. “I just finished chapter 10 and I’m starting chapter 11.” Why was he talking chapters? I was confused but stayed cool. My facial expression must have given me away because he quickly
added, “Oh, and I’m paying you X amount for the cover.” And just like that, the scope of the project more than doubled. I would be illustrating 17 chapters plus the cover. It was November 5, 2010 when I started the project and it took me a year to complete. I mean exactly a year to the day - November 5, 2011. Each chapter featured stories and background that gave way to intricate images I enjoyed creating. David was a master storyteller and through my airbrush, I was lucky enough to go along for the ride.
Looking back, I can’t help but think that my mom had a strong hand in securing me this book deal. After a brief and sudden illness, she passed away the year before on November 5, 1999. For as long as I can remember, she was my biggest supporter. She understood how much I wanted to be an artist. She celebrated my joys and comforted me through my setbacks. But always, she encouraged me to keep drawing and praying for divine inspiration. While she wasn’t with me, I could feel her and my dad’s spirit surrounding me while I created each piece and it was a great comfort for me as my career advanced to the next stage.