Matthew Revert on Designing How to Set Yourself on Fire

Head editor, Michelle Dotter from Dzanc and I enjoy an easy working relationship. It’s always a pleasure working with her, so when I was given the opportunity to design the cover for How To Set Yourself On Fire by Julia Dixon Evans, I jumped at the chance. The book sounded fantastic and offered a lot of design opportunities. I don't tend to take titles too literally when approaching a book's design as it is often far too obvious, but when I first approached it I couldn't resist the evocative image of a burning book. As you'll see, an element of this idea survived to the final draft, but early on, I was far more overt.

Matthew Revert on Designing How to Set Yourself on Fire

She Gathers, An Evening at a She Designs Books Event

On May 31st, She Designs Books held it’s third “She Gathers” event at Pondicheri in New York City. The initiative, founded by Anne Twomey and Nicole Caputo, celebrates the female designers working in the book industry and fosters a supportive and inspiring community. “She Gathers” began in March of this year, and since has been held monthly. In the summer, they plan to also host “She Lunches” to widen the audience to those who have difficulty making it in the evenings (for example mothers).

After, I followed up with some of the women in attendance to get their thoughts on the event. 

She Gathers, An Evening at a She Designs Books Event

Ambiguous Animation: Michael Salu Talks The Garbage Times/White Ibis

What do you do when a book cover design demands movement, dynamism, and mystery? If you are Soft Skull Press, you call designer Michael Salu, a writer himself, who approaches the uncanny with his kinetic designs. For Sam Pink’s The Garbage Times/White Ibis, a combination of two novellas, Salu filled a tall order by designing a cover that solicits curiosity both in motion and at rest.

Ambiguous Animation: Michael Salu Talks The Garbage Times/White Ibis

The Illustrator's Practice: Kate Forrester

Kate Forrester is a freelance illustrator specialising in hand-drawn lettering and illustrated designs for packaging, publishing, advertising and other commercial applications. Selected clients include Diet Coke, Hachette, Victoria's Secret, John Lewis, Faber, Barnes and Noble and Penguin Books. When she’s not in her studio, Kate can be found pottering round Brighton with her naughty twins (usually to be found running in opposite directions), drinking too much coffee and attempting to master Muay Thai. Here she talks us through her process.

The Illustrator's Practice: Kate Forrester

Zoe Norvell: Designing Book Covers On The Go

To be a great designer, I believe one must live an enriched life. Designers find inspiration everywhere we look—from famous museums to dusty junk shops to the colorful currencies of other countries. In order to express the world visually, it’s important to me to digest as much of it as possible. This is one of the many reasons why travel has always loomed large in my life. Going to a new city or a national park is a feast for my eyes and a shot of adrenaline to my creative muscles! Traveling forces me to look beyond my desk, beyond Pinterest or Tumblr, and go to straight to the source. 
After living in Brooklyn, NY for ten years, I packed up and moved out at the end of 2017. For the last four months I’ve been a “digital nomad,” living in and visiting eight countries in Central and South America: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. In late December, I flew south with my MacbookPro, drawing tablet, notebook, a large bag, and a loose itinerary. During this time away, I upheld my usual work load—working on over 30 book covers.

Zoe Norvell: Designing Book Covers On The Go

A Rare Deal: A. N. Devers Broadens the Canon with The Second Shelf

Writer, editor, and rare book dealer A.N. Devers believes that rare books by women are a) undervalued b) under-promoted and c) anything but ‘niche,' a cheapened term with which they are often associated. Devers decided to publicize the issue and call the literary community to action through her new Kickstarter campaign, The Second Shelf, which asks readers, writers, and rare book collectors to donate to her new hybrid literary magazine and rare book catalogue dedicated to celebrating heretofore hidden rare books by women. 

A Rare Deal: A. N. Devers Broadens the Canon with The Second Shelf

The Illustrator's Practice: David Foldvari

David Foldvari has been working as an illustrator since the late 90's. His client list includes Nike, Penguin, The New York Times, Random House, The Museum of London, The Guardian, Newsweek, Le Monde, Historic Royal Palaces and countless others. His work has been exhibited globally, and it appears in print weekly in The Observer, where he illustrates columns by David Mitchell, Stewart Lee, and Charlie Brooker amongst others. David currently lives and works in London, and is represented by the Big Active agency. Here he talks us through his process.

The Illustrator's Practice: David Foldvari

Beginning to End, The Making of Little Twitch, Part 1: Michelle Brower

Beginning to End is a new series from Spine following a book idea from acquisition to bookshelf. For our first "season," we're honing in on Little Twitch, 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. Michelle Brower of Aevitas represents Swyler; Bloomsbury will publish Little Twitch next year.

Beginning to End, The Making of Little Twitch, Part 1: Michelle Brower

Katharine & Elizabeth Corr on Finishing the The Witch’s Kiss Trilogy with The Witch’s Blood

In March, sisters Kate and Elizabeth Corr finished their popular The Witch’s Kiss trilogy with its final installment The Witch’s Blood and faced some conflicting feelings. 

“On one hand, we’re really proud of what we’ve written, and kind of amazed that we’ve had three books published in less than two years,” said Kate of the fast-paced and character-driven Sleeping Beauty retelling.

“On the other hand, we’ve spent so much time with Merry and Leo and the rest of our characters— so much time in their world— that saying goodbye to them was really sad,” said Liz. “It’s sad thinking that we’ll probably never write about them again.” 

Katharine & Elizabeth Corr on Finishing the The Witch’s Kiss Trilogy with The Witch’s Blood

The Writer's Practice: Juliet McDaniel, Mr. & Mrs. American Pie

Palm Springs socialite Maxine Simmons thrums at a higher frequency than the rest of everyone. She's fierce and she's funny and she's fearless, the madcap heart of Juliet McDaniel's debut novel, Mr. & Mrs. American Pie. Though she won't arrive on bookshelves until August, Maxine's been around for years.

"Whenever I've had to be in a situation where I'm uncomfortable, I pretend to be someone like Maxine, over the top ridiculously confident " McDaniel told Spine. "She's been with me her whole life."

The Writer's Practice: Juliet McDaniel, Mr. & Mrs. American Pie

Katie Everson on Designing Boy 87

A gripping, uplifting tale of one boy’s struggle for survival, Boy 87 echoes the stories of young people all over the world today.

Shif is an ordinary boy who likes chess, maths, and racing his best friend home from school.

But one day soldiers with guns come to his door, and he knows he’s no longer safe. He must leave his mother and younger sister, to embark on a dangerous journey. Separated from the people he loves, Shif will encounter new nations and strange voices, cruelty and kindness, imprisonment and escape, on a hazardous voyage by land and sea.

Katie Everson on Designing Boy 87

The Illustrator's Practice: Shawn Harris

Shawn Harris is an artist and musician who lives and works in Morongo Valley, California. He began doing record and poster art for his own band the Matches in 2003, moving on to illustrate for bigger musicians such as Adele, Snoop Dogg, and 311. His first picture book "Her Right Foot", written by Dave Eggers, was the recipient of six starred reviews. Shawn and Eggers have a follow-up picture book slated for Fall 2018, entitled "What Can a Citizen Do?" 

Here he talks us through his illustration process.

The Illustrator's Practice: Shawn Harris

Emily Mahon on designing Sociable

Sociable is a hilarious novel of one young woman’s search for happiness and an inside look at life in the wild world of digital media. As I was reading this book, I couldn’t help but picture current open office space plans with hundreds of people on computers and limited personal space. Everyone inhabits their own little universe while on headphones, listening to podcasts and music. Yet within these workspaces there is a physical closeness that creates a communal world.

Emily Mahon on designing Sociable

The Writer's Practice: Steve Kistulentz, Panorama

Twenty-first century America visually consumes cataclysmic events. A shooting, a plane crash, a terrorist attack — these tragedies we process through videos captured by strangers' cameras, presented to us by newscasters or posted by unknown users online. Watching, we may feel pain or horror or shock, but also we experience a disconnect, pulling these moments into our minds via screens. 

The Writer's Practice: Steve Kistulentz, Panorama

Some Things Covered: See Yourself in This Book

When asked to write a piece on representation for Spine, I immediately wondered why I was asked? In my opinion, plenty has been written on the subject. Frankly, I’m often wrangled into similar conversations with my publishing peers. These are always awkward, so did I really want to write a piece on representation in book covers?  Call it explanation-fatigue, but I really did hesitate.

Some Things Covered: See Yourself in This Book

Q & A with Author / Literary Agent Eric Smith

Michigan-based author, blogger, and literary agent Eric Smith is no stranger to the public eye. A popular and engaging social media user, the New Jersey native regularly and enthusiastically interacts with his literary followers and has gone viral several times. 

Smith’s book-themed ramblings have appeared on Book Riot, Paste Magazine, Publishing Crawl, and Barnes & Noble’s blog. His own books have been published by Bloomsbury, Quick, and Flux. 

Smith, who began his publishing career in social media and marketing at Quirk Books, received his BA in English from Kean University and his MA in English from Arcadia University. 

He spoke to us about the intersection of his two equally compelling careers

Q & A with Author / Literary Agent Eric Smith

Katya Mezhibovskaya on designing Here Is Real Magic

What happens when a magician, whose job is to elicit astonishment in others, loses his sense of wonder? Here is Real Magic is a book about celebrated professional magician, Nate Staniforth’s hero’s journey from fascination and success to disillusionment and searching and eventual rekindling of his connection with magic. After years of transforming audiences from rational, tax-paying adults into wide-eyed children, Staniforth was near burn out. He decided to seek out the source of his vocation and travel to India where magic is ever-present, acknowledged and revered.

Katya Mezhibovskaya on designing Here Is Real Magic

Words from the Weiss: Amanda Weiss Talks Cover Design, Part 2

I was recently approached by Katrina Noble, art director at the University of Washington Press, to work on an upcoming book cover called Woke Gaming: Digital Challenges to Oppression and Social Injustice. Edited by Kishonna L. Gray and David J. Leonard, Woke Gaming consists of essays exploring the ways gamers are using current technologies to challenge inequities within and beyond virtual reality. Not just focusing on #Gamergate and the common discussion of violence within video games, Woke Gaming discusses the future of gaming, identifying strategies for detoxing video game culture and turning it into a positive catalyst for social justice. The book discusses a broad range of social issues from gender dynamics and misogyny to racial and queer positions in gaming practices. 

Words from the Weiss: Amanda Weiss Talks Cover Design, Part 2

The Writer's Practice: Elizabeth J. Church, All the Beautiful Girls

In her second novel, All the Beautiful Girls, Elizabeth J. Church wanted to explore women's bodies, "how in our culture they've been abused, reviled, dishonored, glorified, objectified … all of those things," she told Spine. "The best vehicle I could think of was a Vegas showgirl."

The Writer's Practice: Elizabeth J. Church, All the Beautiful Girls

The Writer's Practice: Nafkote Tamirat, The Parking Lot Attendant

An enigmatic, charismatic, possibly dangerous parking lot attendant rules an empire of Ethiopian parking lot workers, inextricably tangled up with the Ethiopian community of greater Boston as well as a mysterious, decaying utopian commune on a tropical island. The narrator, an intelligent and emotionally isolated young woman, pushes her singular self forward through each community, at once insider and outsider, welcomed and expelled.

The Writer's Practice: Nafkote Tamirat, The Parking Lot Attendant

Shine On: Anne Jordan and Mitch Goldstein Shed Light on the Cover of M. Joy’s The Unnaturals

For designers Anne Jordan and Mitch Goldstein, a book’s insides should always dictate its cover design. Design begins from within, after all, in the guts of the thing. For the cover of M. Joy’s young adult dystopian novel The Unnaturals, new from inclusive indie publisher Wellington Square Media, Jordan and Goldstein got not only creative but downright kinetic with blue light, a driving a motif throughout the novel.

Shine On: Anne Jordan and Mitch Goldstein Shed Light on the Cover of M. Joy’s The Unnaturals

Jenna Stempel-Lobell, Collaborating with T.S. Abe & Billelis for Ibi Zoboi’s Pride

HarperCollins cover designer Jenna Stempel-Lobell looked to both old covers and modern art to create the cover for one of her latest projects, American Street author Ibi Zoboi’s second novel Pride, a novel “especially suited” to her “typical design process.” 

Jenna Stempel-Lobell, Collaborating with T.S. Abe & Billelis for  Ibi Zoboi’s Pride

Will Mackin, Collecting his Experience as a Soldier in Bring Out the Dog

"We were walking across the desert. It's like walking across the bottom of the ocean, rolling dunes of sand." Former Naval officer and writer Will Mackin, author of the new short story collection Bring Out the Dog, is telling Spine what it felt like, what it looked like to serve in Iraq. What it was like to serve in Iraq during that one minute, on that one day, that one moment that was so surreal, so ugly and so beautiful and so "fucking weird," he took out his grease pen and wrote notes across his arm. So he wouldn't forget. So he could carry the moment forward.

Will Mackin, Collecting his Experience as a Soldier in Bring Out the Dog