The Designer's Process: Suzanne Dean On The Lauras

Suzanne Dean is a Creative Director for Penguin Random House Group. Contributor Vyki Hendy contacted her about the design for the cover of The Lauras. Here she describes her process for developing the cover.

The Lauras by Sara Taylor is the story of an enigmatic pilgrimage that takes Alex and her mother on a road trip from Virginia to California, and back to various stages of the mother’s life. Each new State that they pass through prompts stories and a revealing of secrets.

I always read the manuscript, and make notes in the margins on visual directions. I want to depict the essence of the novel. There has to be a reason for my visual interpretation. Towards the end of the book there is a paragraph in which Alex looks back on the journey. This perfectly sums up my design solution. “We don’t have memories as we like to think of them: perfectly preserved snippets, here’s-what-happeneds, certainty and clarity. All we can really have are mythologies, fragments pieced together and made to cohere, to have pattern, to explain life so that, even if we can’t feel good about it, we can believe we understand it.” In the text, the mother plans the journey using a large map of the United States. It becomes annotated and starred. I started by purchasing a collection of old, relevant maps from ebay. I scanned, sliced and adjusted their colours. In the collage, the layers are exaggerated by the shading cast from the maps, and by allowing the author and title lettering, to weave through the design.

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