Samantha Wood, author
Samantha Wood, author

And the other was the art of the great Australian artist Garry Shead

So I sent the brief off to the wonderful designer, and we went from there. Over a week or so we went through the various options and, I suspect, I’ve now sent her into therapy with the following, oft-repeated, email threads: “I don’t like the white. Can I have it in pink? No. Green? Nope. How about white on a black background? Actually, I like the pink.” That she's still talking to me is wonderful, and slightly miraculous, and I tip my hat to cover designers because it is a really tricky thing to design a cover while trying to decipher what the author actually wants. And what I wanted turned out to be something very different to what I'd originally had in mine.


Well, we'd established that colour was a thing - tick - but as each concept came back it brought up new ideas. What I really wanted was a design that reflected the beauty of the landscape where the story is set – the starry night sky, the burnt country landscape, the rich red of wine grapes – along with a hint of what’s to come with the wine spilling from the glass, suggestive of blood, although not too macabre because that would then take us into another genre entirely. Throw in a bit of tragedy and trouble. Heartache and redemption. Et voila.


The thing is, you’re not going to get all of that from a cover, but I like to give the reader food for thought. It’s not a design that is immediately suggestive of psychological thriller, and I’m okay with that. What it is turns out to be not so far from the original brief after all: is colour and movement, light and dark, suggestion and mystery. Mostly, it just feels right. So being one for instinct, I’m going with it. And, like life itself, we’ll see what happens next.

I’ve just finished the cover design for Under Ten Thousand Stars and it has been a little stressful. I mean, what did I expect? It has been over two years since I’ve done one, and I think I’d forgotten the challenges involved. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved doing it, and have the world’s best designer, but still… So much depends on the cover. Actually, everything depends on it.


For this one I wanted something the opposite of my previous book. While they’re both psychological thrillers, and The Bay of Shadows cover is immediately recognisable as that genre, I decided on a different theme this time around, and had only one stipulation: colour.


I’d been really influenced by a couple of visuals. One was the following jacket design for Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude. Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?

Samantha Wood Author Blog Post March 27, 2019

Posted on March 27, 2019

CAN WE HAVE STARS?: ON DESIGNING THE COVER...

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