Countdown to publication: cover story

Book_Cover_final_Front_SmallIn a little over three week’s time my curious little tale of Mr Tumnal will be published. It’s been quite a journey for me over the years and as I write this I am filled with a mixture of excitement that finally anyone (and everyone) will have the chance to read what has been occupying my head for so many years, and also terror that… well, pretty much precisely the same reason! Will people like it?

Even today I have read a book that makes me think, oh, that would would have been interesting if Louis had done this, or you didn’t find out about Lewis until that… The truth is we will all think that, all the time, every time. The story is now what it is, and I’m pretty bloomin’ pleased with it.

When I was preparing my debut novel, The End Of All Worlds, for publication, the choice of a cover to front it was an easy one. I had a clear idea of the look I was looking for and it was something that I knew I had the artistic skills to deliver. Even then, in the end there were two versions, the current version and the earlier much more loved but not as saleale pen and ink one.

However, for Mr Tumnal, I always new that this was going to be different. My debut was a book all about the climate and folklore, whereas this is a people story. It’s a story about one man:

Everyone has an imaginary friend. Rarely do they marry their imaginary friend. Only one has ever had their imaginary family become real.

I always thought that a professional cover would be prohibively expensive. However in talking to John Scotcher, an old university friend, and author of the forthcoming The Boy in Winter’s Grasp, I was put in contact with Romanian artist Silviu Sadoschi. I entered the process nervously and tentatively, unsure of how exactly to brief a cover artist. But I sent the briefest of brief synopses, a few character notes, major themes, and a Pinterest board

A few days later Silviu sent me a prelimary sketch of his ideas. I was blown away by what he had sent me. For someone who hadn’t read the book and didn’t know my writing style he had completely captured the feel of the book. I signed him up, and you can see the finished cover image here – it even wraps around the spine onto the back cover of the paperback edition.

It was such a pleasure dealing with Silviu over the back-and-forth of the design process that I wanted to find out a little bit more about the way he works and his interests and background, and I thought that the readers of Mr Tumnal might also be interested. So that’s what I’ve done…

How did you get started in book cover design?
This is actually my second book cover. I do all sorts of artwork for different projects but book covers is something new to me.

How long have you been designing book covers and graphics?
I’ve been doing this since I can remember, but I took it really seriously a couple of years ago when I decided that I wanted to make a career out of it.

Tell us about your process? How do you get started? Are you inspired by the synopsis, or do you rely more on what the author wants?
For this one I was inspired by what the author wanted but also by the synopsis. Regarding the whole process, I usually start from a rough sketch and then I go over it again and clean it to make the whole drawing more readable. After that I just start rendering the sketch until both me and the person for which I’m doing the artwork think it looks finished.

Are there any genres you prefer? What about genres you prefer not to work with?
I usually prefer fantasy, but I like to approach all kind of different genres, I don’t really have a problem with any of them.

How long does it usually take you to get a cover complete?
An illustration, it usually takes from a couple of days, to a week or more, depending on the complexity of it.

Do you have any tips for authors who decide to design their own ebook covers?
I don’t think I have any tips, maybe just keep it simple and don’t go overboard with all kind of different colors. But seriously, I may be wrong as I’m still learning about illustration.

Tell us a little about yourself? Your background, hobbies, anything we’d like to know.
Well, I’m a 22 year old guy from Romania, I’ve been passionate about art since I was a kid and I have been working as a freelance artist for about 3 years now. For hobbies I don’t really have one, I guess I’m trying to bring this hobby of drawing to a career point as I don’t see myself doing anything else in life. Besides that, I like nature, but also the city, as I find it inspiring.

Is there an all-time favorite book you have?
Recently I haven’t been reading too much, as I’m too busy doing artwork for different projects and trying to learn different things about painting. But from the books that I read in the past I guess the one that I really liked was a novel named Shōgun written by James Clavell. I always found the Japanese culture inspiring so this book seemed like an interesting read.

And finally, how does it feel to know your art and designs are sitting in book stores today?
It feels great to know that all that hard work is going to maybe make someone feel something when looking at it. And even if it’s exposed on a shelf somewhere around the world, it gives me a great feeling.

Mr Tumnal is published on Thursday 27 November 2014 as for Kindle and Paperback and is available for pre-order now on Amazon UK and Amazon.com (also available on other local territories).