Donna Cheng on Designing Rabeah Ghaffari's To Keep the Sun Alive

To Keep the Sun Alive is about the intimate, vibrant lives of the people in the Iranian city of Naishapur. The novel is told through servants, children, and close families set against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution. As the city falls apart the characters' strengths are put to the test as they seek justice and truth, and search for a voice.

Donna Cheng on Designing Rabeah Ghaffari's To Keep the Sun Alive

Steve Leard on Designing Sick-Note Britain

Sick-Note Britain (Hurst Publishers, February 2019) is an urgent call to reform Britain’s sickness culture, offering social – not medical – solutions. The author sees the book as a blistering condemnation of a sham system that works for nobody.

Hurst gave me a pretty open brief, which for me is ideal as it allows me to try a wide-range of approaches.

With a book like this, there’s a number of obvious routes that initially come to mind. I often find it useful to get them down on paper, if only to rule them out and move on to more original ideas. The most obvious was a shape of Britain made out of a crumpled note. This seemed to tick some boxes, but for me these were shallow, a bit flat and didn’t have the necessary impact. 

Steve Leard on Designing Sick-Note Britain

The Covers of Devangana Dash: a Delightful Blend of Graphic Design and Deeply Human Illustration

New Delhi-based visual artist and designer Devangana Dash knows daring color and deviant lines. Just look at her covers for works like Goodbye, Freddie Mercury, Auroville, and Heart: A History, and you will find that oft-coveted balance between crisp, modern design and the gorgeous singularity of the human hand. Dash works as an in-house book designer for Penguin Random House India, where a constant influx of creative projects requires her to design, illustrate, and correspond with clients daily. 

The Covers of Devangana Dash: a Delightful Blend of Graphic Design and Deeply Human Illustration

Pete Garceau on Creating the Cool Cover for Tim Johnston’s The Current

The Current was a title that was given to me by the creative director of Algonquin Books, Anne Winslow.

The story takes place in the dead of winter, outside a small town in Minnesota. It focuses on 2 murders, that happened 10 years apart. Both victims were teenage girls, that died in the exact same spot, under the ice of a frozen river. The last girl to drown, had her car rammed off an icy road, into the frozen river, by an unknown attacker. With her, in the car, was a friend that survived the crash, who unearths secrets throughout the story, that lead to the killer.

Pete Garceau on Creating the Cool Cover for Tim Johnston’s The Current

The Illustrator's Practice: Lynn Scurfield

An illustrator’s workspace is both modern and anachronistic: it welcomes the design world’s most innovative trends, all the while honoring the human hand and the old-fashioned, often messy tools at its disposal. Such is the studio of Toronto-based illustrator Lynn Scurfield, whose life-affirming creations make use of both Macintosh and gouache, Adobe and acrylic. In a quiet corner of a quiet suburb, Scurfield illustrates for clients like Macmillan, The New York Times,  and The Atlantic, just to name a few. Scurfield calls her workspace a “nice corner of shared living space where outside the window a squirrel comes by to visit often.”

The Illustrator's Practice: Lynn Scurfield

Karen Thompson Walker Discusses Process for Writing The Dreamers

Author Karen Thompson Walker's new novel The Dreamers, out last month, is set in the fictional college town of Santa Lora, California, where a mysterious virus has arrived in a college dorm, placing its victims in a perpetual dream state. Soon, the disease extends outside the dorm walls. The book wraps readers in a tranquil dream while keeping them turning the pages to uncover the cure.

Karen Thompson Walker Discusses Process for Writing The Dreamers

Tree Abraham Takes On a Transcontinental Challenge for The Remainder

Last summer I had the fortuitous experience of being briefed the same book by two publishers. First, the British publisher And Other Stories reached out to me, and then a few rounds into the cover design process, the American publisher Coffee House Press contacted me about designing the US edition. Having studied design in the UK, and now based in the US, I am quite comfortable adapting my style to suit the intended market, but I could not have foreseen the challenges that this unique case would pose.

Tree Abraham Takes On a Transcontinental Challenge for The Remainder

Stephen Brayda on Designing Samanta Schweblin's Mouthful of Birds

Mouthful of Birds was presented on my first list as a cover designer for Riverhead and stars aligned. With a six-month-old baby at home, I needed another reason to lose sleep at night.

Packaging Samanta Schweblin’s newest collection of short stories proved to be an all-consuming adventure like the stories themselves. I was immediately moved as I read- I’ve always been fascinated with tales that end with more questions than answers. The stories are short (some just two pages long) but packed full of evocative and haunting imagery- more than some full-length novels. Schweblin has mastered the formula for captivating storytelling and I quickly got caught up in the ride.

Stephen Brayda on Designing Samanta Schweblin's Mouthful of Birds

Andrew Grant, Creating a Champion for the Underdog & Writing Invisible

With his eighth book, Invisible, out this month from Ballantine, Andrew Grant wanted to appeal to a wide range of readers while balancing the complexities of uncertainty, surprise and action. His approach was to create a hero who “very much resonated within the time that we live in, a hero that was most suited for current times.” Protagonist Paul McGrath comes home to New York City after many years away as military intelligence officer, a career that alienated him from his pacifist father. He arrives too late for reconciliation. His father died under questionable circumstances, and the man police believed responsible walked away during the trial due to a legal technicality. In an attempt to find the truth about what happened to his father, and gain access to restricted areas within the courthouse, McGrath, whose motto is the only constant is change, takes a job as a courthouse janitor.

Andrew Grant, Creating a Champion for the Underdog & Writing Invisible

Carol Ly on tackling a new genre for Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across

Like many, I knew of Mary Lambert from her beautiful vocals on the song Same Love. I didn’t realize she was an accomplished poet/spoken word artist until I became the designer for Shame Is an Ocean I Swim Across.

Before the design process began, Mary invited us to see her perform. I ventured out that evening with the book’s editor, Kate Farrell, and her assistant, Rachel, without knowing what to expect. By night’s end, Mary had bared her soul on stage through song and poetry, and it was clear how much she connected with her rapt audience.

Carol Ly on tackling a new genre for Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across

Clémentine Beauvais on the Inspiration & Development of In Paris With You

This month sees the US release of Clémentine Beauvais’ best selling French novel, In Paris with You. Told in verse, this tender and funny book is the story of Eugene and Tatiana, whose teenage romance fails, only to be rekindled when they meet again ten years later. The novel has been a bestseller on French charts since it was published in 2016, selling 30,000 copies in the first three months, and reprinting three times in the first two. It is no surprise this beautifully written story has such appeal. It is infinitely relatable, yet utterly unique. Much like the story in the novel, the story of the novel also crosses time and geography.

Clémentine Beauvais on the Inspiration & Development of In Paris With You

Brandy Colbert Talks Writing, Journalism, And Teaching

Brandy Colbert wrote the contemporary YA Finding Yvonne to fill a space.

“I wanted to explore the life of an unapologetically sexual black teenage girl, which we don’t often see— at least, not without their lives being ‘ruined’ shortly thereafter,” Colbert said. 

The novel features a teen violinist forced to make a difficult decision when she becomes unexpectedly pregnant. National Book Award finalist Elana K. Arnold called it “a pitch-perfect song of a book about all the ways a heart can break and mend.”

Brandy Colbert Talks Writing, Journalism, And Teaching

A Look at Interior Book Design with Jordan Wannemacher

We all know that cover design matters, but the visual elements of a book don’t stop at the jacket. Interior book design involves an artistic and logistical eye, a mind for both page layout as well as the music of the prose. Enter Jordan Wannemacher, a book designer who has taken her zeal for cover design straight to the pages themselves in her work for the interior of David J. Helfand’s A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age.

A Look at Interior Book Design with Jordan Wannemacher

Chaya Bhuvaneswar on Crafting White Dancing Elephants

Reading forward through a short-story collection, a reader hopes to be moved uniquely by each piece, but also to arrive at book's end having undergone a singular experience. Writer Chaya Bhuvaneswar's White Dancing Elephants, described by author Jimin Han (A Small Revolution) as a "daring mix of ancient, contemporary, and dystopic stories," provides such a cumulative read.

Chaya Bhuvaneswar on Crafting White Dancing Elephants

Author/Designer Hafsah Faizal on Writing We Hunt the Flame

What if the Hunger Games were set in a fantasy world?

Contemplating that question during a discussion with her sisters sparked the idea behind YA author and popular designer Hafsah Faizal’s debut, We Hunt the Flame, a YA novel that took “four years and many iterations” to complete.

We Hunt the Flame features a huntress masquerading as a boy, as well as the prince sent to assassinate her. Evelyn Skye, New York Times bestselling author of The Crown’s Game series, called the ancient Arabia inspired fantasy “danger, magic, and hope all wrapped into one.”

Author/Designer Hafsah Faizal on Writing We Hunt the Flame

The Illustrator's Practice: M. S. Corley

M.S. Corley designs, illustrates, and dabbles in all stories dark. Along with his friends Nashotobi and Alejandro Mirabal, Corley recently founded Hollow Owl, a small press comic book company with a penchant for the creepy. We recently squared up with Corley to learn more about his life as an illustrator, graphic designer, comic book purveyor, and patron of pancake art.

The Illustrator's Practice: M. S. Corley

Beginning to End, The Making of Light from Other Stars, Part 3: Patti Ratchford

Beginning to End is a series from Spine following a book from acquisition to publication. For our first "season," we're following Light from Other Stars, about a young astronaut hopeful and an invention that alters time. The novel is author Erika Swyler's second, following her much-lauded 2015 debut, The Book of Speculation. Bloomsbury Art Director Patti Ratchford designed the cover, which features art by Marc Burckhardt. Bloomsbury will publish Light from Other Stars in May.

Beginning to End, The Making of Light from Other Stars, Part 3: Patti Ratchford

Michel Vrana on Designing The Death Scene Artist

Andrew Wilmot’s The Death Scene Artist (Woksak & Wynn) is a literary horror novel that recounts a romance between the dying M_____, a bit player film and television extra, and the world’s greatest living ‘redshirt’, who has died on screen nearly 800 times. There’s a lot of symbolism that came to mind right away in reading the book. Movies, death, performance, scripts, masks, red…

Michel Vrana on Designing The Death Scene Artist

Richard Ljoenes on Designing the Genre-Defying Works of Alejandro Jodorowsky

The Son of Black Thursday (Restless Books, November 2018) is the sequel to Alejandro Jodorowsky's semi-autobiographical Magnum Opus Where the Bird Sings Best. I had the opportunity of working on both of these covers, and they are up there with my favorite projects.

Richard Ljoenes on Designing the Genre-Defying Works of Alejandro Jodorowsky

Author Amy Bloom Details Her Process for Writing White Houses

Lorena Hickok was plain. Plain, Hick was, hardscrabble born just before the 19th century turned, risen up and away from her abusive father, away from South Dakota, into a career as a straight-spoken newspaperwoman, into the White House, into the bed of Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States. Plain Hick was, and straight she spoke, straight words, but as imagined and written by Amy Bloom, words also strong and compelling, language sometimes spare, sometimes sharp, often lovely like the lovely of a winter beach.

Author Amy Bloom Details Her Process for Writing White Houses

Olga Grlic, Designing I Do Not Trust You

I Do Not Trust You was originally called The Lost Map of Chaos and is a teen thriller with lots of adventure and mystery, for my new imprint Wednesday Books. There was no direction given when it was launched and I knew I wanted it type and texture only and not photographic.

Olga Grlic, Designing I Do Not Trust You

Dan Mogford on Designing Wasted Calories and Ruined Nights

Wasted Calories and Ruined Nights is a collection of restaurant reviews by Jay Rayner detailing some of his worst experiences as restaurant critic for the Observer. Alex Kirby at Faber approached me with the brief to do something playful, maybe typographic with a hint of “dining gone wrong” and no photos of Jay himself. 

Dan Mogford on Designing Wasted Calories and Ruined Nights

Justine Bateman on Writing & Designing Fame: The Hijacking of Reality

Justine Bateman absolutely, one hundred percent could have written a celebrity memoir. You know the ones with the catchy titles, the People Magazine prose, the quirky-but-always-pretty photos splashed across the front. One of those. Bateman could have written one — publishers were pushing her to write one — and you know, it would have been easy.

Justine Bateman on Writing & Designing Fame: The Hijacking of Reality