Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A new beginning...

So, my first book is unofficially finished. Whoop! Whoop! -'Unofficially' because, whilst I'd never admit to being something as daft as superstitious, I certainly don't want to tempt fate! (yeah, yeah... I know. Well at least I stopped counting magpies- Mainly because I don't know the correct prediction for a person who spots a flock of 27 of the little blighters. I'm pretty sure it can't be good. I have a suspicion it's along the lines of, 'you're a sucker who should spend more time out of your studio and in the company of others' and/or a sign that the world is at an end... Either way... best be sensible about stuff, eh? Just don't step on the cracks whilst doing it.

So, the cover does still need doing (of the book? You remember, that's what this post was supposed to be all about!) However, we think that might not be until after Bologna Book Fair, where the book will be making its' debut (eek!) Apparently, sometimes publishers take a cover mock-up with them to get feedback before commiting to a final design. This, I think, is what's happening in my case.
Of course, I knew how important a book's cover was, but I had no idea how many things needed to be considered when doing one. It seems to be quite a science, and a mini-project all of it's own. Apparently it can be a pretty contentious topic and I've been imagining Bridget Jones style publishing/sales punch-ups over font choice etc. We shall see what wins out.
I found out that the title isn't just a title either. I thought the writer just picked something that sounded right, but apparently those 3-ish words almost have to work like a strapline, describing both the story and it's character so as not to confuse an audience. I'm told many books change titles a couple of times before hitting the shelves.

With that in mind, this book's going to be called Lively Elizabeth- I'm guessing you know where we're going with this one... Mara Bergman's text is all about a little girl who's a little too OTT for her classmates and who finds out there are consequences to her over-bumptiousness.

The title describes the process of illustrating it pretty well too. I've often had days when I've felt like putting Elizabeth to bed without her tea. However, she's been an awful lot of fun to have around too. She's taught me a lot about how to work with a text, the process behind making a book and about living with a character. I hope it does really well for Hodder and Mara because (here comes the cheesy part!) it really has made me a better illustrator attempting to rise to the level of Mara's text. Thankfully, everyone seems pleased with the end result. However, it's now upto Elizabeth to stand on her own two feet in front of the rights buyers at the fair, next month- Please, please let her behave herself!

(The first pic is the second colour character sketch I did. The second and third pictures are from spreads in the book).

Anyway, in the name of something which is most definitely NOT superstition, I haven't yet had my official post-1st-book celebrations (although I have allowed myself a quiet and ever-so-sophisticated 'whooping' session, whilst dancing around the table)

My main nod and a wink to the whole 'finishing' affair so far has been to un-teather the beauty that is my brand new Ikea 'desk of dreams'; which just this day, emerged magnificently from its cardboard cuckoon. A few rather colourful utterances and 2 sore thumbs later and Huzzah! I am now working ACROSS DESKS on the next project. There's something so fabulously grown-up about working on multiple desks; makes me want to drink espresso, look carefully windswept, don a pencil behind my ear and call everyone Larrs... Next move is to get a phone in the studio, but I don't yet trust myself with the responsibility... I'd probably end up prank calling my downstairs phone and giggling myself silly.

So, onto the next book. I'm not sure how other artists like to do things, but I've realised it's necessary for me to have a face-to-face thrash out of ideas at the beginning of a project- It helps make sure everyone's on the same page (it's so hard to avoid that pun, isn't it?) Anyway, I popped my thumbnails, pants and toothbrush in a Sainsbury's bag (classy, eh?) and dashed down to Londers for meeting with my editor and art director.

The second book's going to be the absolute opposite of Elizabeth in style and tone, which keeps me on my toes and is great, as I'll have a lot of variation early on in my career. Elizabeth is minimal in backgrounds, naughty and nicely girly. The new project is thoughtful and melancholic, with a boy as the lead. It will have loads of yummy full-bleed backgrounds and probably completely OCD amounts of detail.

We covered a lot of ground in the meeting (not surprising really, given that I was in there for over 3 hours, and we only paused to look vaguely awkward as I dribbled sandwich pickle down my chin...) We finalised layouts and I've since done a colour character study too, which has really brought the project to life for me.

I'm going to aim to hand-in worked-up roughs next week and if all goes to plan, it will go to Frankfurt in October. Damn it, it seems my work has a more exciting travel life than I do!


April Jarocka said...

Beautiful illustrations Cassia. Wish you all the very best with the book when it goes on sale. I'll be looking out for it on my way past to the beach lol:)

cassia said...

thanks very much, April :0) BTW, I asked my surfer friend about the Irish waves and he said they were pretty hardcore?- you must be a pro. have vowed to attempt a paddling pool first! Hope all's spiffo with you. cx

Claud said...

What the....

christine grove said...

Congrats on your first book! I'd dance around my desk too!! Can't wait to see it in published form:)

cassia said...

thanks very much, Christine! I do hope you get to see it over there in printed form. Unfortunately the bottom seems to have dropped out of the market for us UK folk to sell into the States. I shall let you know as and when the different country's sort out rights. If not, I'll give everyone a shout out when it goes up on amazon next year.

Hope all's well with you?