The Writer's Practice: Julie Israel

Novelist Julie Israel describes her writing process in no uncertain terms. 

“It’s kind of like a bell graph,” she says, “where the thing being measured is chaos.” Similarly chaotic is her unconventional route to debut author stardom. Though she holds the expected B.A in creative writing, Israel prides herself on the more atypical entries in her resume - like her experience teaching English in Japan, which she best summarizes as “HOLY CULTURAL EXPOSURE, BATMAN.” 

The Writer's Practice: Julie Israel

Interview with Designer Leo Nickolls

Leo Nickolls a freelance book cover designer and illustrator with extraordinary talents. Some of his work includes covers for Joanna Nadin's & Anthony McGowan's Everybody Hurts, Chris Womersley's City Of Crows, Allegra Goodman's The Chalk Artist, and the recent 40th Anniversary Edition of Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia. Holly Dunn caught up with him at his studio for Spine.

Interview with Designer Leo Nickolls

Designer Lisa Horton Talks Process for Flight of a Starling

Lisa Horton is a London-based designer and illustrator. Horton was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule and answer a few questions about her life as a freelancer, and share her creative process behind the cover design of Lisa Heathfield’s young-adult novel, Flight of a Starling

Designer Lisa Horton Talks Process for Flight of a Starling

The Writer’s Practice: Hazel Gaynor

No excuses.

Hazel Gaynor's writing practice includes a lot more (read on!), but begins and ends with no excuses.

"What I’ve learned since first being published is that regardless of where you write, or what mood you’re in when you get there, you have to show up at your writing place every day, even if only for 15 minutes some days, and get the words down. No excuses."

The Writer’s Practice: Hazel Gaynor

M. S. Corley, Designing for Aaron Mahnke's Lore

Freelance designer M. S. Corley has always been interested in supernatural folklore. A fan of the Lore podcast since its beginning, the opportunity to design a cover for a related title was “The dream job, he didn’t know he wanted,” unaware that the book had been in the works.

M. S. Corley, Designing for Aaron Mahnke's Lore

Sam J. Miller, Exploring the Strengths of the Human Heart

When he was growing up, writer Sam Miller worked alongside his father in his father's butcher shop. The work was, in Miller's words, "pretty gritty." But also, a stream of fascinating people came by, including a gentleman who lived in the woods and survived on a diet of worms. "He would come in to buy hot sauce for his worms," Miller told Spine

Sam J. Miller, Exploring the Strengths of the Human Heart

Shapes with Personality: Shayla Bond Talks SPINE 7’s Cover Design

Simplicity is key. Sure. But so is substance. A clean, minimal graphic only works if it means something. Enter Shayla Bond, the cover designer for SPINE 7. If you think this issue’s cover is cool, you should meet its creator. Bond (even her surname radiates badassery) is a self-taught visual artist and fashion illustrator with a university background in textiles and artisanal methods. For her, the jaunty shapes on SPINE 7’s cover are not only delightfully simple; they are deliberate, meant to mean.

Shapes with Personality: Shayla Bond Talks SPINE 7’s Cover Design

Julia Fierro Talks Writing, Gypsy Moth Summer & Sackett Street

Simmer. Smolder. Bubble boil churn stew.

When Julia Fierro isn't writing the next big thing, her brain chews on the next big thing, spitting out bits and bobs that Fierro saves until she has a towering pile. 

"Sometimes I'll write what I hope will be a first chapter, but I send myself notes most days," she told Spine. "It might be one line. Last night at two in the morning, I'm struggling for my phone in the dark."

Julia Fierro Talks Writing, Gypsy Moth Summer & Sackett Street

The Writer’s Practice: Julie Cantrell

New York Times bestselling author Julie Cantrell grew up in what she describes as a “rural, blue-collar Louisiana town,” where the possibility of becoming a novelist was “as far-fetched as becoming the Queen of England.”

Cantrell, who from a very young age had relied on writing as a way to process the world around her, found herself nevertheless convinced she would be wasting her scholarship if she chose to study the craft professionally. A high school English teacher told her to pursue something less wasteful.

The Writer’s Practice: Julie Cantrell

Books About Books: Clayton Childress on Under the Cover

Since he can remember, sociologist and bibliophile Clayton Childress has been enchanted by process rather than product. That is, he has always loved to learn how things are made. “In elementary school the first thing I ever spent my own money on was an Entertainment Weekly subscription—this was back when EW was doing profiles on producers, screenwriters, etc., and covering entertainment business news.” 

Books About Books: Clayton Childress on Under the Cover

Matt Johnson Shares Original Cover Concepts for Goodbye, Vitamin

Matt Johnson is a London based book cover designer. Among the works in his portfolio is the incredible jacket for Rachel Khong's Goodbye, Vitamin published by Scribner UK. Here he shares for us his artwork and process, along with the original concepts developed by the creative team.

Matt Johnson Shares Original Cover Concepts for Goodbye, Vitamin

Interview with Designer Maria Elias

Maria Elias is an inventive and thoughtful designer. She has received accolades and mentions from AIGA, Design Observer’s 50 Books/50 Covers of 2015, and Type Director’s Club Communication Design for her work on the book Convictions.  

Here she digs into her process for us and gives us some thoughts on the world of design.

Interview with Designer Maria Elias

Emma Ewbank, Creating A Thousand Paper Birds

Emma Ewbank is a senior designer for Bloomsbury. Her portfolio features many notable works including the design for Tor Udall's A Thousand Paper Birds. Here Ewbank describes for Spine what when into creating this remarkable cover.

Emma Ewbank, Creating A Thousand Paper Birds

Designer Jim Tierney Talks Past, Present, and Future Projects

Jim Tierney is an acclaimed book designer where his love of books and images is abundantly clear in everything he does. In 2011, he was awarded a New Visual Artist award and in in 2016, he won a Regional Design Award for Amy Stewart’s Girl Waits With Gun, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Michaela Sullivan: Creative Director, Brian Moore: Art Director, Jim Tierney: Designer/Illustrator). Spine recently caught up with Mr. Tierney to discuss a few items about his practice.

Designer Jim Tierney Talks Past, Present, and Future Projects

Q & A with Illustrator Sara Mulvanny

Sara Mulvanny is a freelance illustrator based in North Hampshire, England. Her illustrations and hand-drawn typographic elements are reminiscent of the beautiful Art Deco style. Mulvanny has worked with Random House, Harper Collins and Sinsbury’s Magazine since 2010. We caught up with her to find out how she came into the industry, her typical creative process, and her creative contributions for Summer at Hope Meadows and Chasing the Dram: Finding the Spirit of Whisky.

Q & A with Illustrator Sara Mulvanny

Interview with Suzanne Dean

Suzanne Dean is the Creative Director at Vintage Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House UK. She is one of the world's leading book cover designers and is the creative vision behind designs such as The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes and the UK editions of the works of Haruki Murakami, among many others. Holly Dunn caught up with her at her Penguin Random House office in London for Spine.

Interview with Suzanne Dean

Uncommon Cover: Lauren Wakefield’s design for Tom Hanks’ Uncommon Type

Cornerstone’s Junior Designer Lauren Wakefield believes that each creative brief varies considerably. While a design team may look at many different approaches until a final treatment is agreed upon, the concept for Wakefield’s cover design for Tom Hanks’ Uncommon Type came to her instantly. 

Uncommon Cover: Lauren Wakefield’s design for Tom Hanks’ Uncommon Type

Daniel Benneworth-Gray on Work-Life Balance & Process

Imagine designer Daniel Benneworth-Gray, head down, tucked into a small, neat alcove. An iMac rests on the big desk, some sheets of good off-white paper and a very black pen off to the side. Here Benneworth-Gray sits, day in and out, churning out massive amounts of work: book covers for every press you've ever heard of, articles on work-life balance for Creative Review, and Meanwhile, his weekly design-news digest.

Daniel Benneworth-Gray on Work-Life Balance & Process