I’ve got it covered #2

While I’m at it, I will continue with David Dean’s book covers. And this one is actually blue.

I didn’t even read a proof of Candy Gourlay’s debut Tall Story. It was a typed manuscript for me. Is that why I have two copies of the book here? Maybe. I thought a while back that I’d declutter and keep just the one. But ‘unfortunately’ there was something special about both the hardback and the paperback and I was unable to follow through…

It was also a story that turned a corner for me, and it has a special place in my heart, even were it not for David’s artwork.

As with The London Eye Mystery, it has been a while since Candy’s book was published. If you missed it eleven years ago, now is a good time to unmiss it, whether with hard or soft covers. It also made for best book of 2010 on Bookwitch. It was a year of such excellence, and not just any old book gets to be pronounced best.

Talking about excellence, it brought me into the excellent Philippine Embassy, which is a something that doesn’t always happen. Or other embassies, for that matter.

I quite like this linking to old stories of mine, so here is one where the Siobhan Dowd book cover meets Candy’s, so to speak. It describes so well the way everything blends together and everyone is everywhere.

Have now read through half a dozen marvellous memories from 2010, and I can’t keep linking or you would be here all day. But, you know, these books and their covers have taken me to so many places to meet so many people!

4 responses to “I’ve got it covered #2

  1. Crikey, another one of my covers? I’m blushing. If I was doing this I’d be picking covers by Karl James Mountford or Melissa Castrillon, both of whom I think are geniuses when it comes to children’s cover design.

    Tall Story was the third cover I did for David Fickling Books (all commissioned by Alison Gadsby) after The London Eye Mystery and Ellie Updale’s Johnny Swanson. I did a few more for them after this: Candy’s Shine (the cover for that one won a gold medal in the 2012 3×3 Professional Show), Rachel Campbell-Johnston’s The Child’s Elephant and Jon Walter’s Close to the Wind. Alison and David were always a joy to work for as they’d take chances on unusual compositions that other publishers would perhaps shy away from.

    I’ve just been looking back through my emails and Tall Story was commissioned as a bit of a rush job in November 2009. My initial rough for it was a view looking down on a basketball court with the title lettered on the floor around the centre circle. Andi and Bernardo stand right at the top of the cover with Bernardo disappearing off the edge and their two shadows (one short, one very long) cast diagonally across the cover, with lots of basketballs bouncing around. Candy (very rightly) rejected this idea as being too focused on basketball and not making enough of Bernardo’s unusual height, so it was back to the drawing board!

    The revised rough was submitted on the 10th December and is almost exactly what you see in the final cover. The tricky bit was how to show Bernardo’s extreme height without any context (just showing Andi doesn’t help as she’s clearly a child and could be very short) and so I ended up with this crowd scene. Making the word TALL well…. tall… was Candy’s idea and led to the rather unusual composition where the image is confined to the very bottom of the cover. I was really pleased with the spine on this one – I thought the bus stop was fun.

    I think Candy tells the story of attending a lecture about book cover design and whoever was speaking saying covers should avoid things that are too geographically specific lest it limit the book’s appeal to an international audience and one of the no-no’s that was mentioned was a red London bus!

  2. OK, won’t mention you for a few weeks then…
    And I’m sure your geniuses are, well, geniuses. But I don’t know them. Yet.

    Red London bus? Well, I would say that’s one of the things people often get wrong. In the UK we like them. Or so I believe. But they are so iconic and loved elsewhere, too, that I feel a bus is a selling point. People all over the world love some British (English) things to an extent the natives can’t understand.

    • Oh, I agree! I’ve just looked it up in case I was misquoting, but no, it’s on Candy’s Notes From the Slushpile blog – the speaker was the Sunday Times’s Nicolette Jones and she said “for the sake of the international market, we avoid putting things on the cover that might be too specific – like a big red double decker bus”. However, she was talking about the danger of book covers becoming too generic by trying to jump through too many hoops so she might have been saying this is the way it was becoming (this was 2010) rather than the way it should be. But absolutely, if a book has a very specific setting, you want to try and get that across on the cover – it’s part of the flavour of the book, isn’t it?

      Haha, I don’t mind at all if you want to do more of my covers 🙂 I’m flattered and thrilled that they’ve made such an impression on you!

      Karl James Mountford did the covers for Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart books, Jamie Smith’s Frost Fire, the Potkin & Stubbs books, Helena Duggan’s books, Maria Kuzniar’s The Ship of Shadows and many many more.
      Melissa Castrillon did the cover of The House With Chicken Legs and Michelle Harrison’s books as well as some recent covers for the His Dark Materials trilogy. Both of them have styles that hark back to mid-20th century design and do a lot with ornament but are also very modern and have been really influential on the way children’s book covers have changed in the last five years or so.

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