The Writer's Practice: Felicia Yap

In her first novel, the high-concept thriller Yesterday, Felicia Yap explores memory and its effects on relationships. Half the book's characters are "Duos," who can only remember the last 48 hours. The remaining characters remember even less; "Monos" only recall yesterday. While characters constantly write in journals ("iDiaries") to save present details for future review, in many ways their lives are a constant surprise.

The Writer's Practice: Felicia Yap

Mark Read & Toxic People

Mark Read is a book cover designer and art director based in London. Among the incredible work in his portfolio is the cover for Dr. Tim Cantopher's Toxic People: Dealing with Dysfunctional Relationships. Here he describes his process for creating the design, in his own words.

Mark Read & Toxic People

2017 Book Covers We Loved

As 2017 draws to an end, we at Spine would like to take a look back at some of the more remarkable book covers that we have seen over the last year. There was a great deal of amazing work out there. Though we could probably go on forever about this year's designs, we limited our selection to fifty.

2017 Book Covers We Loved

Some Things Covered: Why #metoo Isn’t Funny

All the #metoo posts got me thinking about how women everywhere needed to feel they were not alone anymore. Do you know what the loneliest feeling is? Thinking you are alone. An odd (wo)man out. The person who humorlessly “doesn’t get it”.

Some people can only feel satiated by power. And they feel most powerful when they can take power by diminishing others. When silencing or bullying others, they convince themselves of their supremacy. And one of the most effective disguises of their true harmful intentions is humor. 

Some Things Covered: Why #metoo Isn’t Funny

Akemi Dawn Bowman, Exploring Emotion with YA Novel Starfish

Messy family dynamics. Social anxiety. Abuse. Healing. As a teenager, Akemi Dawn Bowman struggled through all of it. Looking back, she realized a book addressing these difficult experiences would have helped. So she wrote it.

 Akemi Dawn Bowman, Exploring Emotion with YA Novel Starfish

The Writer's Practice: Peter Manseau

To write the story of 19th century charlatan photographer William Mumler is to write much of the story of the American 19th century itself. In Peter Manseau's latest book The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost, the award-winning author tells many tales: of the rise of photography, of the development of a distinctly American popular culture, of a nation left grieving in the wake of the Civil War, of a people aching for something to believe in — and finding it in Spiritualism and in William Mumler's "spirit photography." 

The Writer's Practice: Peter Manseau

Spine Podcast, Bonus Episode: Erika Swyler

We’re taking a break from our usual design discussion to bring you this bonus episode. 

Earlier this year when we were developing this podcast we took a look at several different formats for the show. One of the thoughts we had was to discuss with authors the process of bringing one of their books to life. Which led us to record an interesting conversation with author Erika Swyler. Erika's first novel was the Book of Speculation. She has a fascinating story to tell as to how she became involved with the pitching process for that book. We also talked to her about writing, and a little bit about her current project.

Spine Podcast, Bonus Episode: Erika Swyler

Our Other Whitman: The Subversive Minimalism of a Boston Renaissance Woman

The spare, often floral, book cover designs of 19th Century Boston artist Sarah Wyman Whitman might conjure memories of piles of forgotten books at garage and estate sales. Think thin gold lettering on quiet green cloth. Think precious leaves and hearts. In a bookstore today, where slick, pyrotechnic covers compete for buyers’ attention, you might overlook Whitman’s designs for their antiquated simplicity. And you might regret it. Whitman, whose artistic career and social influence made her one of Boston’s most prolific and intriguing artists, may easily be considered the mother of modern book cover design. At a time when cover design was dominated by ornate flourish and, well, men, she ushered in a new minimalism that continues to speak for itself.

Our Other Whitman: The Subversive Minimalism of a Boston Renaissance Woman

Behind the Scenes at Bonnier Zaffre

I'm sitting on a train on my way to London, and I'm ridiculously excited. Today I get to hang out at Bonnier Zaffre, the newest kid on the publishing playground. And this kid has had its Weetabix, already luring in big-time authors such as Lynda La Plante and Wilbur Smith. 

Bonnier Zaffre is the brainchild of CEO Mark Smith. A quick internet search reveals that zaffre is “a blue pigment obtained by roasting cobalt ore (and also) a cobalt blue colour.” Not the most obvious name for a publisher but Mark Smith chose it himself as he is a particular fan of the colour. Smith joined Bonnier in 2014 to start a fiction arm of Bonnier Publishing, itself part of global media group Bonnier AB, a Swedish conglomerate heavily involved in improving the Swedish education system by donating books to schools on a regular basis. The new publishing house has “the entrepreneurial spirit of a start-up, with the financial backing of a parent company with revenues of more than 6 billion euros.”

Behind the Scenes at Bonnier Zaffre

The Writer's Practice: Linda Sue Park

Raffa, the short-statured, brave-hearted hero of Linda Sue Park's Wing & Claw trilogy, possesses the encyclopedic knowledge of flora required of a young apothecary. He easily recalls each plant's physical and medicinal properties, and comprehends how best to combine and manipulate to achieve the desired affects in human subjects. But Raffa holds something more inside him than most "pothers." Witness: 

"[Raffa] pounded the stem and leaves of the scarlet vine to a pulp, then added some to the poultice. As he stirred, the paste began to take on a gentle vermilion glow, and in his mind he heard something that sounded like a faraway cowbell … ."

The Writer's Practice: Linda Sue Park

Mark Swan & The Man Who Died

Mark Swan is a designer for Kid-ethic, a studio specializing in print design for the publishing and film industries. Here Swan details his process for developing the cover to Antti Tuomainen's The Man Who Died, in his own words.

Mark Swan & The Man Who Died

Holly Macdonald, Cover Design for The Standing Chandelier

Holly MacDonald studied illustration at Camberwell College before moving onto publishing. She began as a Junior at Transworld, and has since worked both in-house (at Bloomsbury and Oneworld) and as a freelance designer. MacDonald is currently a Deputy Art Director at HarperCollins. Here she details her process for designing the cover of Lionel Shriver’s The Standing Chandelier.

Holly Macdonald, Cover Design for The Standing Chandelier

Tom Bevan, Eye Of The Beholder & Afraid to Death

Tom Bevan is a designer and illustrator currently residing in Leyton (UK). Among his works are recent cover creations for Marc Behm's Eye Of The Beholder and Afraid to Death. Here Bevan details his process for creating these pieces, in his own words. 

Tom Bevan, Eye Of The Beholder & Afraid to Death

The Writer's Practice: Tor Udall

Kew Gardens, the historic, 299-acre botanical garden in southwest London, sits at the heart of Tor Udall's first novel, A Thousand Paper Birds. The main characters — a widowing musician, a struggling origami artist, a grief-stricken linguist, a curious child, and a quiet gardener — push through time, through grief, even through the porous borders separating the living from the dead. As their narratives intertwine, the characters crisscross Kew Gardens, from memorial bench to glasshouse, from woodland to pond. 

The Writer's Practice: Tor Udall

Nico Taylor on Creating the Cover for Claire Messud's The Burning Girl

Nico Taylor is a Literary Art-Director at Little, Brown Book Group in London. Among the works in his portfolio is the cover for Claire Messud's The Burning Girl. Her he details his process for developing the cover in his own words.

Nico Taylor on Creating the Cover for Claire Messud's The Burning Girl

Rachel Khong on Writing Goodbye, Vitamin

Ruth Young arrived first. The 30-year-old sonographer showed up before her ex-boyfriend and before her younger brother. She even arrived before her parents: her mother, recently obsessed with vitamins; her recovering alcoholic, philandering, history professor father, battling Alzheimer's disease. All these characters play central roles in Rachel Khong's first novel, Goodbye Vitamin, but first, said Khong, came Ruth.

Rachel Khong on Writing Goodbye, Vitamin

Spine Podcast, Episode 2: Anne Jordan & Mitch Goldstein

For this episode we talk to Anne Jordan and Mitch Goldstein, cover designers for such titles as Humankind by Timothy Morton and Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez. The couple are also responsible for many incredible book covers for academic publishers. Their award winning designs have been highlighted by AIGA and Design Observer, as well as Print Magazine.

Spine Podcast, Episode 2: Anne Jordan & Mitch Goldstein

How Do You Like Your Horror?

Only in M.S. Corley’s world do Jesus, folklore, marginal fiction, video games, monsters, and all things 19th century converge and construct the ultimate creative environment. In this space, he concocts book covers design that convey and conceal the darkness on the page. A designer and illustrator with an expansive portfolio, Corley credits his haunting, unique cover designs to a lifelong affinity for the spooky, the supernatural, and the unexplained. “Prior to working on book covers, I've done a lot of other illustration work both personal and for clients that could be classified as horror,” Corley remarked. “My interests generally fall into the line of ghosts, monsters and the supernatural, so drawing spooky imagery was always my thing. And it ended up bleeding into my book cover work too.” 

How Do You Like Your Horror?

The Writer's Practice: Carrie DiRisio

What makes a successful young adult hero? In the case of Broody McHottiepants, a few book rejections, a couple glasses of wine, a quick wit, and a Twitter account.

Coming off a brutal round of querying in early 2015, Carrie DiRisio was mourning, just a little bit. Agents had yet to bite on her young adult novel, a book she'd written over the past while working full time and attending graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh. What did these people want? A brooding hunk? A handsome hero, fond of glaring and silence, but also prone to occasional bursts of wit and chivalry? Well, she'd give him to them.

The Writer's Practice: Carrie DiRisio

Introducing Spine Podcast, Episode 1: Kimberly Glyder

Welcome to Season 1 of Spine podcast. For our first episode we talk to book cover designer Kimberly Glyder, creator of covers for notable titles such as Fen, The Wonder, and a new edition for Gone with the Wind. Over her career she has received recognition from AIGA, Type Directors Club, AAUP Book Jacket and Journal Show, New England Book Show, New York Book Show, and PRINT’s Regional Design Annual.

Introducing Spine Podcast, Episode 1: Kimberly Glyder

Some Things Covered: What Fight?

One morning Eric Wilder sent me an email at 9:00 am. He asked if I had seen a new Guardian article about UK book cover design. Did I mention it was at 9:00 am? I'm not a rational person at 9:00 am, so I knew he had to be serious.

He sent the article, but I was mystified by his urgency, till I read the thing. It was extremely familiar. Some version of this article comes around every so often. To make a long story short, it claimed UK cover design was the envy of the world, and had always been better than US design. And Eric wanted me to pen a rebuttal. I read the piece and sent him my response. I wasn’t interested in getting in the middle of the old rehashed nationalistic argument.

Some Things Covered: What Fight?

The Writer's Practice: Carmen Maria Machado

During graduate school at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Carmen Maria Machado heard other students discussing their short story collections, talking about how they wrote around a central concept. "They seemed to be focusing on a very specific theme or set of topics, and the stories are turning them over in various ways," she told Spine

Machado found it ridiculous, this concept of limiting oneself to a defined thematic space. But then she looked at her work — about "bodies and sex and sexual violence and the physicality of bodies" — and realized she was writing this way, too.

The Writer's Practice: Carmen Maria Machado