In 2013, Victoria Love was lucky enough to be selected for an internship at Bloomsbury Publishing in London. She recently discovered that the fruits of her labour have come to… well, fruition!
During my two weeks, I worked on the design briefs for two upcoming titles; Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil by James Runcie and The Disappearance Boy by Neil Bartlett. Both are due to be released this year: Sidney Chambers in May and The Disappearance Boy in July.
For the first cover, one of the editors asked me to read the manuscript and suggest some ‘images’ to be pulled from the book that could be used to inform the cover design. Given that the book was one of a series known as ‘The Grantchester Mysteries’, as well as that I’m from Cambridge, I relished the task! The previous books had featured prominent Cambridge locations, such as the station and even The Eagle pub, the favourite haunt of the eponymous Sidney.
Without giving away the plot of the third book ahead of its publication, I can’t really explain too much. Suffice to say the three suggestions I remember making were the following:
- The first two covers feature notable Cambridge buildings and architecture; Grantchester Cathedral and King’s College Chapel. I suggested that this should be carried forward and gave a list of buildings that included the Round Church and the Fitzwilliam Museum.
- The previous covers depicted Sidney, in silhouette, with his faithful dog, Dickens. In the third novel, Sidney is newly married and so I felt a female silhouette should be included to reflect the change.
- I proposed the idea that the cover should take on a lighter colour / tone as the book is set in the 1960s which is arguably a happier, more optimistic time than the settings of the previous two.
I was very excited to see the final design recently and it brought a little smile to my face. Of course, there is no way of confirming my involvement, but here it is:
The Disappearance Boy
In the second week, I was handed the manuscript for The Disappearance Boy by Neil Bartlett on Monday and was told to take the week to write the cover brief, blurb and other AI sheet information; it felt like such a daunting task!
It took a while and I went about the cover design the wrong way, finding examples of images that reflected the book, which wasn’t quite what was needed. However, it was useful to hear the feedback at the end of the second week on both the importance of wording a blurb correctly and what the design team needs to feed their imagination. I left feeling a little annoyed with myself that I’d only done a semi-decent job despite lots of ideas in my head, so even though my internship had finished, I went home and wrote up some different cover suggestions and e-mailed the ideas to the team.
I was told: “this is amazing. Thank you so much for putting in the extra legwork, it really is very helpful”. This really made me smile.
The novel is set in the 1950s theatre world and follows the story of a nefarious magician and his ‘disappearance boy’, the one who makes the ‘magic happen by helping the assistant disappear. I felt that the typical nostalgic 1950s feel wouldn’t suit the tone of the novel, but I knew one designer’s work which would.
Propaganda and The Festival Of Britain
Abram Games was the designer of the Festival of Britain identity in 1951 and a host of WW2 propaganda posters and he has always been a favourite designer of mine; his edgy, and often dark style would lend itself perfectly as an echo of the post-war 1950s, without the ‘cute’ Cath Kidston polka dots and rose-tinted spectacles nostalgia that is so common.
Here you can see two examples of Games’ work and the resulting design from Bloomsbury. I can see some similarities, can’t you?
I definitely found my time at a ‘big’ publisher stimulating and it definitely helped me realise that my first love will always be trade publishing. It fires my imagination and creative side in all the right ways!
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank the whole editorial team at Bloomsbury for putting up with me last year; Alexandra Pringle, Ianthe, Oli, Nick, Imogen, Xa, Alexa. They were very understanding and helpful, especially when I turned up late on the first day because of a car accident on my drive to the station! These things happen…..