Cover Stories: Two Books by Frank Anthony Polito

The winner of last week's contest for Stephanie Kuehnert's latest, Ballads of Suburbia, is... Summer! Send me your address, S.Frank Anthony Polito is an author and actor and playwright--he's a multi-talented guy. And he's got some pretty colorful books under his belt. Here, he shares their cover stories: "For my first novel, I originally saw the idea as being a drawing, with the words Band Fags! over top of a music staff, and the letters forming the 'notes.' The 'd' would be a quarter note, the 'F,' a bass clef, the 'g' and treble clef etc. For my second book, Drama Queers! I didn't have a real clear image in my head. Unlike band, there is no "uniform" for drama, other than the costume an actor wears in a play. I thought, maybe something with a stage and curtains? BAND FAGS--Cover Mock Up2.jpg"For both books, my publisher gave me the opportunity to provide input. For Band Fags! I decided, after looking at some other Kensington titles, to use a photo (courtesy of Getty stock). I found some of various kids in a marching band uniforms. I found one where a guy was looking at another guy, almost sneaking a glimpse, and thought 'that seems gay!' A second featured a guy holding a bass drum on which I thought the title could be superimposed, and another (the one I ended up choosing) showed a kid in a band uniform with a pink sash across his chest. How much gayer could you get?! DRAMA QUEERS!--cover mock up 01.jpg"In Drama Queers! the kids put on a production of Grease, so I looked online and found a really hot guy in jeans and a white t-shirt standing in front of a curtain in a spotlight. My editor didn't like it. I also found one of a guy peeking his head through a curtain, which I thought looked 'mysterious.' My editor said it was better, but not that great. "The first time I saw the cover for Band Fags! I wasn't too excited--even though I chose the image and advised the art department on how to design it down to putting the title across the sash. BandFagsCover.jpg(I loved the font they used for the title.) The color of the sash had been changed to orange-red, which kind of bummed me out. But I guess the publisher didn't want to pigeon-hole the book as just being a 'gay' story, so they avoided the pink. Eventually I grew to love it, and I've gotten nothing but compliments. "For Drama Queers! I was less impressed. I wasn't expecting what I saw at all! I had no idea where the idea of the dog's head (or is it a bear?) came from. At first, I didn't think it fit the story, and I even went back in and added a paragraph where the protagonist mentions working at an amusement park and having to dress up in costume. Then I realized, this is drama-related! Drama Queers.jpgAnd, as a friend put it, 'it's like he's trying to hide his homosexuality,' so it does fit. Again, I've got nothing but compliments, and it's really grown on me. I also like the spine on this one, which is just a blue strip with the title. On the first one, the picture bends around to the spine, and the title gets lost a little, in my opinion. "There was one thing that changed from the original cover that I was shown to the actual Band Fags! book. On the proof, he title was embossed (raised), which I thought was super cool. I guess due to costs, the production dept. decided to scrap it for the final. Drama Queers! stayed exactly the same. "I like 'em both. My only regret is that the two covers aren't more similar, since the stories in both books are so connected and I think of them as a 'box-set.' (Drama Queers! is a 'companion piece' to Band Fags! and covers some of the same ground time-wise, but is told from a different protagonist POV.)" These books sound like a lot of fun to me. Listen to this rave review: "Band Fags! is like the gay teen flick John Hughes never got around to making." -- Dennis Hensley, author of Misadventures in the (213) and Screening Party Now that sounds awesome. What do you guys think of the covers? The bear one startled me at first, like, What? But it's grown on me and I find it endearlingly funny now--I think it's my favorite!