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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Beginning to End follows a book from acquisition to bookshelf. For this "season," we're honing in onLight 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. In our first article, we spoke with Swyler's agent Michelle Brower. Next up: Lea Beresford, senior editor at Bloomsbury Publishing, working with Swyler to ready the book for publication next year.
Designer Eric Wilder loves to take several visual approaches to a creative brief, hoping one will resonate perfectly with both publisher and author. Such was the case with Wilder’s design for Between Two Worlds, David Sorensen’s memoir about growing up as the hearing child of two deaf adults. When he received the brief from Gallaudet Press, Wilder decided to use both the abstract and the concrete in the cover designs he submitted. Ultimately, Gallaudet and Sorensen chose a design whose colors and shapes evoked the liminal space the author occupied in his formative years.
The best designers aren’t just designers. They’re thinkers, dreamers, makers, tinkerers, dabblers, doers, and provocateurs. Case in point? Consider William Morris, influential member of the Arts and Crafts Movement, poet, textile artist, political oppositionist, Medieval fanboy, and book cover designer. A 19th-century giant of design, Morris defied Victorian ideals of mass production and proved that the best designs always belong to the artisan, not the machine. Even today, we look to Morris’s textiles and typefaces as we try to create book covers with staying power.
David Doran is an award winning illustrator based in Falmouth, UK. From his studio by the water, he works with international brands, magazines, festivals and publishers creating illustrations of all shapes and sizes. His debut book Alphabet Cities is available now in a bookshop near you. Here he takes us through his process for creating the jacket for the hardcover edition of Josephine Wilson’s Extinctions.
In Julia Dixon Evans' debut novel How to Set Yourself on Fire, 30-something Sheila and her 12-year-old neighbor grow increasingly obsessed with letters to Rosamond, Sheila's recently deceased grandmother, from Harold, a lovestruck neighbor. While Sheila's voice provides the book's primary viewpoint, Harold's voice adds a second narrative rhythm.
Later in the book, Sheila, whose own life tends towards chaos, attempts to impose order by hanging the letters on laundry lines strung around her apartment. Evans's own creative process involved a similar moment of organizational imposition.
For the past 7 years I’ve been working out of the Pencil Factory in Greenpoint Brooklyn. It’s been such an inspiring space to work out of. Having a crew of creative and talented friends up and down the halls has helped shape how I work over the years. Before I moved in here I wasn’t quite as confident in my illustration chops, but when you’re surrounded by some of the best in the biz, you get to have fresh eyes and opinions on projects.
Nikki Green is a graphic designer based in the UK. She recently created the cover for Sinclair McKay’s The Lady in the Cellar, published by White Lion Publishing. Here Green answers a few questions about the cover.
Each author struggles with her own worst stretch of creation. For some, fanning the spark of an idea into a fully formed concept stands out as most agonizing. Others get caught in the middle stages, struggling to find a way out of narrative tangles and research rabbit holes and multiple storylines. While each phase of her book Heartland had its challenges, writer Sarah Smarsh told Spine that the hardest might have been final edits—letting go of a book she’d worked on for some 16 years.
I was born in 1988 in a town called Kramfors in the northern parts of Sweden. It's a very small town so I spent a lot of my time drawing from a young age and I think growing up in a town like that has been important for my process. After college I moved to Stockholm to keep studying art and started with two preparing art schools followed by three years at Konstfack University of Art, Crafts & Design where I did a BA in Graphic Design & Illustration and graduated in 2013. Thereafter I had a year where I did a lot of music which I also love, went broke and started working in a store I hated so I kept building up my portfolio and webpage and some time after launching my page and posting stuff on Behance things started to move. Since then I've been working full-time illustrating.
When the stars align and the universe is kind, an author’s voice aligns perfectly with a designer’s vision. Such is the story of Emily Mahon’s cover for What If This Were Enough by Heather Havrilesky. Mahon’s simple, no-nonsense, pearlized cover illuminates the humor, emotion, and topical scope Havrilesky brings to the page. And that, dear book lovers, is how all-time favorites are made.
K.M. Jackson has ideas, for books and books, for series upon series. "I have more ideas than I have time," said the author, whose romance As Good as the First Time launches this month. "The ideas come way too fast." Her new bulletin board is covered with ideas. "They come from the weirdest spots." Her Pinterest board is full of ideas. "The spark could come from anywhere."
The Sealwoman’s Gift is the debut novel by Sally Magnusson and I had the great pleasure of bringing the cover to life. The book is a story about loss and love, set during a true incident in Icelandic history in 1627, when Barbary pirates raided an Icelandic island and abducted the 400 inhabitants into slavery in Algiers. Working alongside Art Director Sara Marafini at John Murray publishers, we decided the contrast of these two settings was something we could use to create a beautiful cover to wrap this book in. I was provided with a package of reference material, including my own work, extracts from the novel and some ideas Sara had about the direction. From here I started to develop some very rough thumbnails to try and plot out a rough composition and idea for the piece.
With Vox, her debut novel, Christina Dalcher “wanted to create a story about a woman who studied language and yet didn’t speak up as the world changed around her and in the end lost her voice.” In the novel, women are limited to 100 words per day and the country must submit to a value system cruelly enforced by the government. The story of how such a world developed and how it is taken down is bold and riveting. The story of how the novel developed is no less intriguing.
Women Talking is based on a real event which happened in 2009 in which almost every woman and girl in a Mennonite village, regardless of their age or status, was raped, sometimes repeatedly, by their menfolk. Miriam Toews imagines a small group of these women gathering in a hay loft whilst the men are away, visiting the city, to discuss how they will continue to live their lives in the aftermath of their ordeal.
A writer uses tools and techniques, creates outlines and charts that impose order on characters and places, chronologies and narrative flow. These things matter to the writer. These things are real and useful, and can be employed to manage multiple perspectives and geographies. These things, Paul Matthew Maisano relied on when he was writing his first novel Bindi.