The Writer's Practice: Aimie K. Runyan

Aimie K. Runyan has been drawn to historical fiction for most of her life. It “has the ability to transport you through time and space, where contemporary fiction has less of that. It requires so much more description, and makes the writing so much more vibrant, which is one of the joys, and challenges, of the genre,” said Runyan. In her latest book, Daughters of the Night Sky, Runyan takes the reader to the front lines of World War II in Soviet Russia, and tells a tale of war, flight, and women’s rights.

The Writer's Practice: Aimie K. Runyan

Holly Ovenden, Designing the cover for Jenny Zhang's Sour Heart

Holly Ovenden is a designer working in-house at Bloomsbury Publishing in London. Among her amazing works is the paperback cover for Jenny Zhang's Sour Heart. Here she details her process for creating the cover in her own words.

Holly Ovenden, Designing the cover for Jenny Zhang's Sour Heart

Jordan & Goldstein ‘Cover’ Popular Culture with Minimalistic Approach

When the Great Books Foundation, a Chicago-based not-for-profit, contacted design duo Anne Jordan and Mitch Goldstein to design not one but threecovers (and a boxed set slipcover) for a three-part anthology on popular culture, the pair immediately accepted the challenge. Great Books, after all, need great covers. Jordan and Goldstein’s design process for this project, however, reveals the art of transforming noble ideas and values into provocative images and designs. Throughout the process, Jordan and Goldstein leaned on the abstract to convey the utility and inspiration of pop culture, even in modern intellectual circles. 

Jordan & Goldstein ‘Cover’ Popular Culture with Minimalistic Approach

Minko & Bindas, Creating Before The Sun Wakes Up

Successful college students master the art of the juggle: multiple classrooms in multiple buildings, multiple courses with multiple projects, plus roommates and classmates and jobs and on the best days, eating and sleeping. After finishing her second year in the film and animation program at Rochester Institute of Technology, where she's focusing on 3D animation, student Alyssa Minko decided to take it up a notch: She agreed to illustrate a children's book.

Minko & Bindas, Creating Before The Sun Wakes Up

Spine Podcast, Episode 4: Jo Thomson

In this episode we interview Jo Thomson, a freelance book cover designer who previously worked in-house at Pan Macmillan. Thomson is the recipient of a British Book Design & Production Award for Best Jacket for Not Working, by Lisa Owens. She also earned and ABCD Award for her cover design of Haus Frau, by Jill Alexander Essbaum.

Spine Podcast, Episode 4: Jo Thomson

Emily Midorikawa & Emma Claire Sweeney on Writing A Secret Sisterhood

A Secret Sisterhood explores four literary friendships: between Jane Austen and her brother's playwriting employee Anne Sharp; between Charlotte Brontë and her strong-minded schoolmate, feminist writer Mary Taylor; between George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe, American author of Uncle Tom's Cabin; and between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield, whose complicated friendship other biographers have reduced to rivalry.

Emily Midorikawa & Emma Claire Sweeney on Writing A Secret Sisterhood

Wakefield’s Swan Song Cover Captures a Capote Moment 

A good cover conceals and reveals a book’s content. It spills just enough narrative to interest potential readers, but it leaves much to the imagination. Consider Lauren Wakefield’s recent cover for Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott’s Swan Song a primer in walking the line between closure and exposure: dichromatic scallops envelop a near-faceless woman’s poised body, the sharp line of her cigarette disrupting the rounded pattern. Then the title, big and bold and white, enchants us with just enough late-1950s flair to transport us to a smokier, sexier era. Only a cover this demure will do for a book about Truman Capote and his relationships with a group of elite, secretive society women he dubbed his ‘swans.’ After several initial visuals—some too vague and some too on-the-nose—Wakefield created a cover that recalls the charm and darkness of Capote’s social circles.

Wakefield’s Swan Song Cover Captures a Capote Moment 

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