Tag Archives: Book Cover

Interview with UNBELIEVABLE FIB Cover Illustrator Gilbert Ford

This week, we’re celebrating the release of Adam Shaughnessy’s The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB, and I had the great privilege of interviewing the book’s cover artist, Gilbert Ford. Some of my very favorite middle grade covers are Gilbert Ford creations (Seriously! Check out his portfolio!), and this one’s definitely going on the list. Read on to find out how this cover was created and see a sneak peek at some of the other projects this talented artist has in the pipeline.


Elaine Vickers: Can you tell us a little about how you came to illustrate this cover? What was the process like behind the scenes?

fib1Gilbert Ford: Elise Howard, the art director, contacted me to do the cover. She sent me the manuscript, I read it, and we talked on the phone about a couple of directions. Her main concern was the title because it was long and it would take up a good amount of space on the cover. After we talked, I sent her some sketches. Then we narrowed down a direction and I went to final.

What were your first impressions when you became acquainted with THE UNBELIEVABLE FIB? 

It was a fun read and I loved learning about Viking mythology. Mr. Shaughnessy also incorporated elements from folk tales like the Bony Legs hut. There were so many options for illustrations it made drawing the sketches a lot of fun.

fib2There’s so much I love about this cover–the bright colors, the imposing figure behind the words, the way the kids just beg you to follow them around the corner and into the book. What are your favorite things about this cover?

Stylistically, Algonquin let me be a little arty with this cover. I was able to paint a lot of it, making the trees really colorful. I only added a few elements in Photoshop later. The cover is also a direct scene from the book. I think in middle grade, if a child picks up the book to look at the cover, he or she hopes to read about that scene in the book. Book covers for older people don’t have to be so literal.

You’ve illustrated some of my very favorite middle grade covers. (Three Times Lucky, Moonpenny Island, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, and A Snicker of Magic, just to name a few.) Do you typically read the whole manuscript, or just a synopsis? When you read, what are you looking for?

fib3I prefer to read the manuscript for all the book covers I illustrate for two reasons. First, the author has spent a lot of time writing the book and would like to know the illustrator took the time to read it and get the details right. 2. More importantly, I think children read a book based on its cover. I remember feeling cheated when I was 9 after reading a book that had nothing to do with the cover.

What is it about your art that makes it such a great fit for middle grade?

I’m not sure. I think my drawing style maybe reflects cartoons a little, and kids like cartoons? My agent thinks it’s because I read the books. Who knows!

ford1You’re an accomplished artist in so many areas. Can you tell us a little about your art beyond book covers?

I’m currently illustrating two picture books.

One is called Soldier Song by Debbie Levy, and is about how a song called “Home Sweet Home” united the Union and Confederate armies for a day. It deals with creation and destruction and the book is done in warm and cool colors respectfully. It’s 80 pages and the scenes are pretty emotional. I’ve be
en waking up at 5 AM in order to get to that place where I can really get a feel for the duality of North, South, war, music, death,life—without being interrupted by emails.

ford2I’m the author of the other one and its called The Marvelous
Thing That Came From A Spring
, about the invention of the Slinky. It’s illustrated through building dioramas and photographing them. This book requires more of a playful and sculptural side of me, incorporating everyday materials as props in the scenes.

Both books are dream projects and they’ll be out in Fall of 2016.

Thank you so much, Gilbert, for this generous and insightful interview! Readers, leave a comment on any of this week’s posts and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a copy!

Or if you don’t want to take your chances, here’s where you can buy your very own copy of The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB right now:

Indiebound

Amazon

BAM

Barnes & Noble

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Filed under Book Launch, cover art, Interviews

Interview with ALL FOUR STARS cover artist, Kelly Murphy

Yesterday you got to meet Gladys, and today we bring you the illustrator who brought Gladys to life on the ALL FOUR STARS cover. Please welcome cover artist and illustrator Kelly Murphy!

Kelly Murphy

LAT: Thanks so much for joining us this week to celebrate the ALL FOUR STARS launch, Kelly! Can you tell us what the process was like to get it there?

ALL FOUR STARS sketch 1KM: Book covers are some of my favorite illustration projects. It’s that one image that you have to create to entice an audience but be careful not to reveal too much. It’s being able to visualize the voice of the author, creating an important balance between narrative and emotion.

LAT: What do you consider when deciding whether or not to take on a project?

KM: Honestly? TIME. Can I finish this on time. That’s always my number one question. Juggling a few books, teaching, and trying to sustain a remotely healthy sleeping schedule can be pretty tricky. Secondly, I really listen to the editor’s synopsis, and the overall mood they’re looking for. There’s a reason why they came knocking on my door, and I love to hear how the editor made the connection between my artwork and the novel. I had heard about this novel a month or so before it came into my inbox. I was speaking at 2013’s Whispering Pines winter retreat in Southern Rhode Island, where I met with Shauna Rossaro. She hinted that she thought my sense of color and character would be perfect for a foodie middle grade novel. My eyes widened and kept my fingers crossed. I consider myself a rather reclusive illustrator, therefore it’s very rare to meet in person with editors and art directors. So, not only was I very flattered, it was one of the first instances of productive face to face networking for me! I hope my eagerness didn’t scare Shauna too much! And a few months later, I received that happy email!

ALL FOUR STARS sketch 4LAT: I can totally relate to the reclusive networker thing, and I’m so glad you didn’t scare her off! What did you think when you first saw the ALL FOUR STARS manuscript?

KM: ALL FOUR STARS really hones in on the spunk and passion that young minds have. Gladys has this “never say die” approach to the problems set in front of her, and she knows what she really wants. It was great to be able to bring that character into visualization. While a lot of my work typically has a period feel to it, I was excited to work on a contemporary middle grade novel.

LAT: It sounds like you really “get” Gladys. Do you usually read the whole manuscript for a project, or just a synopsis?

KM: Whenever I can, I read the whole manuscript. To really understand and then draw the characters I need to know all of the subtleties. I love imagining the whole world around them. Often I will draw them in their favorite place or bedroom, even if it isn’t described.

ALL FOUR STARS sketch 3LAT: That makes me even more curious! What were the first images/ideas you had? How many initial designs did you propose? How did those get refined over time into the final product?

KM: Gladys has an extremely active mind, and I knew I wanted to have the composition reflect that. My first ideas were of her surrounded by all of the pastries in the story. I was toying with the idea of having the cover framed, particularly by a window. I felt as though not only was it a good compositional device, but it could also reflect Gladys’ struggle to achieve her goals. In essence, stop window shopping and finally walk into the restaurant. I typically like to sketch up to three or four ideas. For ALL FOUR STARS, the ideas were similar, but just presented in a different manner.

LAT: There are so many fun details in the ALL FOUR STARS cover. I keep noticing new things every time I see it. Can you give us any insight into your thinking about some of those specifics: Gladys’ striped shirt, for example, or the swirl that she is sitting on, or the jello molds on the table? How did you make those decisions?

KM: Tara did such an amazing job bringing Gladys to life. I love writers who weave small details about the character throughout the whole book. Most of the details were mentioned throughout the text. Some details are taken from my fascination with French patisseries and all of their delights. It made perfect sense to then subtly invite art nouveau lines and curves to frame Gladys.

ALL FOUR STARS sketch 2LAT: Oh, I love that! What’s your favorite thing about the ALL FOUR STARS cover? Is there anything you wish you could go back and tweak?

KM: I really enjoyed painting the fine details, and working with such a bold color palette. I always wish I had more time to tinker and perfect, but if I dwell too long on what could have or should have done, I may never move on to the next painting!

LAT: I wouldn’t change a thing. I think you nailed it! How was ALL FOUR STARS different from your other cover work, either in your own creative process or in terms of production? Were there any surprises, funny anecdotes, or unusual challenges or frustrations?

KM: Initially, the cover was approved and painted with a confining border, and the text broken in different blocks. Ultimately, each word in the title did become too segmented and did not unify together nicely. It was a good idea to change and manipulate the border to let the whole composition breathe a bit. Overall, it changed the dominant color to a much more pleasing and appropriate butter color.

ALL FOUR STARS cover

LAT: Wow, that’s fascinating! What are you working on next? 

KM: I’m already working away on the companion to ALL FOUR STARS! I’ll be finishing up the painting this week!

LAT: I’ll be looking forward to reading it… AND seeing the cover! Thanks again, Kelly. It’s been such a treat to hear the “inside story” behind a absolutely fabulous book cover!


Remember, you can get your own copy of ALL FOUR STARS from your local independent bookstore (find one here), or order it from your favorite national or online retailer such as PenguinPowell’sB&N, or Amazon.

And, don’t forget, comment on any post this week for a chance to win a signed copy!

 

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Filed under Celebrations, cover art, Illustrators, Interviews

Cover reveal: ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman!

Recipe for a delicious book cover:


Start with one strip of sparkling city skyline…
Skyline only


Stir in 22 mouth-watering desserts…
Desserts only


Add a dash of determined heroine…
Gladys only


Season with one generous scoop of lovely blurb…
Blurb only


And get an incredibly talented artist and design team to cook things up…





and maybe…





just maybe…





if you’re very lucky…





the stars will align…

stars only




and you’ll end up with something like this. 🙂

AllFourStars_FINAL
Gladys Gatsby has dreamed of becoming a restaurant critic for New York’s biggest newspaper—she just didn’t expect to be assigned her first review at age 11. Now, if she wants to meet her deadline and hang on to her dream job, she’ll have to defy her fast-food-loving parents, cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy, and battle Manhattan’s meanest maitre d’.

On a menu (by which I mean, in bookstores) near you in summer 2014. Hooray!

Many thanks to amazing cover artist Kelly Murphy (whom we’ve interviewed on Emu’s Debuts before!) and the design team at Penguin Young Readers Group for producing such a perfect cover for my story. Also, today I’m being interviewed by Krista Van Dolzer over at Mother.Write.Repeat. about this cover, the editorial process for All Four Stars, and its sequel-in-progress, so feel free to stop by over there, too, if you’d like a little more behind-the-scenes info on any of those things!

___________________________________________
Tara DairmanTara Dairman is a novelist, playwright, and recovering world traveler. All Four Stars, her debut middle-grade novel about an 11-year-old who secretly becomes a New York restaurant critic, will be published in 2014 by Putnam/Penguin.

Find her online at taradairman.com.

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Filed under cover art, Illustrators, Promotion

To Rant or Redirect: dealing with e-pirates (Arrrgh!)

Peter’s post on ARCs for sale is thought provoking, and one that I’ll be thinking about for a while. I have yet to receive my first ARC of PARCHED in the mail, but I’m told first page passes are coming soon. In fact, this is a big day for my book: the cover is being released for the very first time today! (Have a look here.)

I’m not sure how I’d feel if people were selling ARCs of PARCHED on ebay, or worse, downloading illegal electronic copies. I mean, how do I not take that personally? They want to read the product of all my hard work and study and creativity, but they don’t want to pay for it. They’re all right with the whole starving artist thing. Hmph.

If such a person were standing in front of me, it would probably take all my willpower not to go off in a rant like the one Hugh Bonneville delivered to an interviewer who admitted watching a pirated episode of Downton Abbey. “I wish you hadn’t told me you had watched it illegally,” he said, “that’s really pissing me off. Shame on you. Be ashamed.”

Do you think that would work?—telling those selling ARCs and pirating books to BE  ASHAMED?

Yeah, probably not. But I’ll bet it feels good to say.

What if, instead of the rants, we put our energies into redirecting readers to the free and legal way to get books? Libraries can sure use our support right now, and they provide ever-increasing access to electronic books. That way, people still get their ebooks for free, valuable institutions in our communities receive public support and patronage, and our work is no longer being devalued.

But, you say, the author only gets paid in royalties for one or two books that library purchases and then passes back and forth between hundreds of readers. That’s not profitable either!

Well, here is one idea: something like 28 countries have Public Lending Right Programs through which authors receive compensation for the use of their books in public libraries. Last year, Canadian authors received anywhere from $25 to $3300 in compensation through the PLR program.

Sounds like a good starting place to me…

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Filed under ARCs, cover art, Updates on our Books!

The Sign of a Great Book Cover

My five-year-old and I celebrating THE MONSTORE illustrator James Burks' newest book, Princess Millie's Magic Wand. (Please note: before haircuts!)

Last week I got the thrill every author looks forward to—a rough sketch of my book cover for THE MONSTORE. (Phew, I need an editor. I don’t mean every author looks forward to THE MONSTORE cover, but it sure would be a boon to my sales if they did!)

The cover was only in black and white, but WOWIE! To see my characters starting back at me with these eager “read me” expressions was as thrilling as holding my daughters for the first time. (Except then I was exhausted and thirsty. At least this time I was well-rested with a huge ceramic vat of chai.)

I immediately printed it out and my five-year-old and I colored it in. Then we slapped it on the basket of the scooter that I use to tool around the neighborhood.  Yep, it’s now a MONSTOREMOBILE!

We then scooted over to the elementary school to pick up my eight-year-old (who is going to be upset if I don’t mention she’ll be nine in two days) and almost caused several accidents.

The kids were mesmerized. Gazing. Frozen. NOT MOVING OUT OF THE WAY!

I guess this is the sign of a good cover, right?

I wish I could share it here with you, but it’s still under wraps.

But I have to say–I think I had such a fabulous reaction to my cover because I didn’t hold any preconceived notions as to what it might look like. I think this is important when you’re the author of a picture book because it will NEVER look like what you imagine.

Nope, it will look BETTER than you ever DREAMED!

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