Monday, 28 February 2011

Cover design

I've got time for one more pass through my new book, Midwinterblood, to be published this autumn, and that means it's time for the design team at Orion to kick into overdrive with the cover. I like this bit for lots of reasons, not least because my work is nearly done and I can 'advise' on someone else trying to get the best out of the thing.

Midwinterblood was always going to be a challengin cover design, because the book has so many different elements. Which to go for? What to focus on? In the end, as I've probably said on numerous occasions, it comes down to one thing. It took me years to realise what a cover should do, and actually it's pretty simple. A good cover should obviously be a smart and striking piece of design, if it tells you something about the plot, characters, setting etc then so much the better, but THE ONE THING a cover should do is tell you how you will feel when you read the book. We read, after all, to experience an emotion, or emotions, and a cover should give you a sample of that before you even open the pages. 

That being understood, as we tweak what will be the finished thing for Midwinterblood, I realise again that that is what it has come down to. A big fat slice of what I hope people will feel as they read the book. And also, after a few alternative designs, we went back to something based on the painting that inspired the book in the first place, Carl Larsson's Midvinterblot. That seems fitting.

Thursday, 3 February 2011


Normally I hate it. Now it seems I love it. Rewriting, that is.

The last two longer books I've written, White Crow and Midwinterblood (which won't be published till October) have seen a change in my attitude to rewriting. With White Crow, I thought this was because I really didn't like getting the first draft down as much as usual, so I wondered if the fun came in tinkering with afterwards. But then, I really enjoyed doing the first draft of Midwinterblood, so that's that theory out of the window. My alternative theory is that because I wrote the first draft pretty quickly, I didn't 'live' for a long time in its world, and therefore was not yet bored/fed up/angry with it.

I've just finished the second draft, and hope I've done enough of the major stuff that needed doing, there will undoubtedly by lots of little bits still to get right, but for a few more days at least, it's off my desk and in my editor's inbox :-)

In the meantime, I realise that we are all wasting our time worrying about writing the perfect children's book, when it was done in that episode of
Black Books, with the elephant and his balloon. (The relevant section comes in at 17:24, but really the whole thing is painfully apt.)

Mind you, the stages they went through to get there seem awfully familiar...