Hey, people. I have never liked covers that show characters - I like leaving the “look” to readers. In fact, I am soliciting your input. In short: draw a picture or link to an image you think represents the character and I’ll use it on a rotating basis. Send submissions to my assistant, Vanessa. - Michael Grant
Rio is a white girl from Gedwell Falls, in Sonoma County, California. She’s smart but not a brain, pretty but no fashion queen, stubborn, determined, and a very good shot. In thinking about Rio I’ve looked to Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier in WW2. Murphy was 5’5”, so scrawny the military kept turning him down. But, like Rio, he discovered a talent for war. Rio is tall and willowy but strong and accustomed to physical labor from working at her mother’s small dairy farm and her father’s feed store. Her most distinguishing physical characteristic is her fresh-faced naiveté and freckles.
Frangie (Francine) Marr
Frangie is a black girl from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She’s smart, compassionate, religious and ambitious. She’d like to become a doctor, but she is realistic about the long odds facing a black female in the 1940’s. She joins the army to help support her family, and trains as a medic. Though all three girls have to fight male resistance to women in uniform, Frangie has to cope with the virulent racism of the time as well. Her most distinguishing physical characteristic is her small stature (she’s frequently called little Frangie.)
Rainy (Elusheva) Schulterman
Rainy is a Jewish girl from New York City. She’s smart - very smart. She is a gifted linguist and, unlike Rio and Frangie, her motivation is crystal clear: she means to destroy Hitler. Rainy is secretive, self-contained, and analytical - perfect for army intelligence work. Her most distinguishing physical characteristic is her springy and impossible-to-control brown hair and her penetrating, judgmental eyes.
Jenou (Zh-uh-noo) is Rio’s childhood friend. She’s white, blond, a breezy, boy-crazy smart aleck who thinks of the army as a great way to meet men. She is also a damaged and increasingly thoughtful person with a quick sense of humor. Jenou’s most distinguishing physical characteristic is - in the jargon of the time - a body that just won’t quit.
Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome. Strand is Rio’s hometown boyfriend who, because he has already learned to fly, is enlisted in the Air Corps where he will fly B-17s. Strand is decent, sweet, kind and occasionally funny if a bit shy and, at times, awkward.
A Jewish boy from New York, with a father in the garment trade. He’s smart, quick, well-informed, a little diffident, funny and admires Rainy despite (or because?) she prioritizes her work over romance.
Jack is a transplanted Brit who is sent to America to escape the bombing of London and ends up marooned in the US, where he joins the army. He’s mischievous, capable, provocatively funny, and deeper than he seems at first.
Called “Stick” he is white, a natural soldier, serious, educated, thoughtful, a capable leader, though he is at first just another recruit in training alongside Rio and Jenou.
Cat is a strapping white girl with a quick wit, a gift for poetry and zero interest in men. Fearless and solid.
Cassell (no one calls him Kerwin) is a white country boy from West Virginia whose future plans go no further than going into the coal mines like his father. He’s a decent sort who manages to avoid much of the bigotry he’s grown up around.
Pang is Asian (Korean and Japanese) who had been living in Hawaii and thus escaped the Japanese internment that took place mostly in California. He is quiet and ostracized because of his race despite being a good soldier.
Sergeant Mackie (no first name) is white, the drill sergeant who trains most of what will become Rio’s squad. She is fit, fair, intimidating, deadly serious, and the very model of the woman warrior.
Sergeant Walter Green
Sergeant Green is black, serious, bespectacled, strong, and a bit too old (mid-20’s) for Frangie though that may not stop either of them.
Tilo is a Hispanic boy from New York, a would-be lover, a flirt, a tease, but fundamentally harmless.
Jillion is a white girl from North Carolina, a useless soldier with an unfortunate tendency to either lose or throw away her weapon. She’s a capable artist who sometimes offers up bits of poetry.
Geer is a good soldier and a bad person. He’s a white guy, a bigot and a sexist and not shy about either.
Sergeant Jedron Cole
Sergeant Cole is Rio’s first sergeant, white, a compassionate but very serious warrior who leads by example as well as by word.