In this episode Holly Dunn interviews designer / author / illustrator and all-around brilliant creative, Coralie Bickford-Smith. Topics discussed include Coralie's breaking into the publishing industry, the creation of a few of her covers, and how she came to write and illustrate The Fox And The Star, and The Worm And The Bird.
Novelist Janet McNally’s latest book was inspired by her love for fairy tales and ballet.
In The Looking Glass, Sylvie Blake’s older sister Julia disappears, leaving Sylvie struggling to live up to Julia’s legacy at the National Ballet Theatre Academy. With the help of their old storybook, Sylvie sets out to find her sister and ultimately learns that “the damsel in distress is often the only one who can save herself.”
Efficiently and profitably, Sandra Pankhurst runs Specialized Trauma Cleaning Services in Melbourne, Australia. She leads her crew into the splattered aftermaths of various deaths, criminal and otherwise, and through the homes of hoarders, where her employees dig through walls of garbage while Pankhurst delicately, expertly, respectfully, kindly keeps the homeowners physically and mentally on task.
Rahasia Salinem is a novel inspired by a true story, about the life of a woman called Mbah Salinem, a maid who has helped many families and tended many households throughout her lifetime, including the authors’. Set in the 1940s and modern times, this book also explores the fight for independence by young Indonesian soldiers and the aftermath of war, and poverty.
We explored many concepts for the cover of this book. At one time we were focusing on Salinem herself, illustrating her figure and making her the prominent focus of the cover, but we realized that it would be too easy and predictable, especially because her name is on the title.
Tropical Porachis, complex and intrigue-addled, is economically powered by a thriving film industry that at once dazzles and distracts from real-world political drama. The imagined country serves as stage for Lara Elena Donnelly's Armistice, the second book in her Amberlough Dossier series. On her publisher's website, she describes Porachis as "Golden Age of Hollywood-does-Bollywood, with a side order of In the Loop."
But how do you get to Porachis? Donnelly arrived via character.
Little Disasters is the story of two couples brought together by chance and changed forever by an affair. Michael and Paul meet in a hospital waiting room while their significant others are giving birth. It alternates between the two men's perspectives as well as between past and present day. The details unfold amid a mysterious disaster that's wreaking havoc on NYC in the present day.
I explored a few directions before landing on the final. One idea was an ice cream cone that’s tumbling over. The couple that has the affair is out one day getting ice cream together and they decide to make that their code word in case either one of their partners finds out. So at face value a ruined ice cream seems pretty innocuous, but once you find out the connotations it symbolizes that ‘oh shit’ moment.
Mrs Whistler is the story of American painter James Abbot McNeill Whistler, Jimmy to his friends, as told through the eyes of his long-suffering muse, Maud Franklin.
I was really excited to get this brief as I’ve been intrigued by Whistler’s work since learning about him in Art History lessons at college. As well as being notorious for his witticisms in social circles many of his works and his art philosophy were quite radical for the time.
Have you ever wanted to follow a successful designer around for a day, in the hopes of discovering their magic secrets to success? Cover Designer Cherie Chapman chalks her success up to three key elements: preparation, communication, and an openness to change. In design as in life, no?
Two years back, writer Justina Ireland launched this question at Balzer + Bray Executive Editor Jordan Brown. Ireland wasn't a publishing novice — Simon & Schuster had released several of her young adult titles — but she was coming out of a self-imposed hiatus, and a recent split with her agent. "I went back to the well and said, 'What do I love about this process?' I took a moment." And then she wrote another book, a post-Civil War American young adult novel. With zombies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.