I love the process of getting a cover on a book. I know it’s something authors generally get excited about, but being married to a brilliant artist makes the whole thing so much more fun. I’m not a very visual person, but I figured out years ago that the answer to covers is not to be too prescriptive. I’ve spent time at the publisher end of the book industry and a surprising number of authors are very clear about what they want whilst having no clue that it won’t work. I figure, your cover artist is the art expert, and also the expert on what works. Book covers these days have to also be viable as tiny thumbnail images online, as well as working on paper versions – its’ tricky
I’m lucky in that I can sit down and have a conversation about the kind of thing I might want, and whether that would work. I have learned to keep it vague. It helps to talk about mood, and to pick one or two key features for the artist to focus on. Then, if you trust your artist (and I trust mine utterly) its often a better bet to just sit back and let them do their thing, playing to their strengths to give you the very best they’ve got.
On this one, I wanted a sense of shrine, or altar as being a way of conveying the notion of prayer. We poured over images of Celtic deity figures online, and then Tom imagined me this strange and lovely figure, inspired by existing figures, but not anything already out there. As I’m a Druid, I pretty much have to have some kind of plant or tree imagery in the mix (it’s almost a law!). We went out looking for one, because that’s worked before (The tree on Druidry and the Ancestors is near where we used to live on the canal). What you can see on this cover, is a hawthorn perched on the side of a common – it’s not a precise take of a real tree, in its exact situation – mostly because the angles on those slopes aren’t quite suitable, but it is very much a gist of how things are on the hills round here. The grass is briefly lush, but in summer becomes a golden yellow, like a sheen of fuzzy hair that stays into the winter. The hills themselves have been quarried over long time frames, which contributes to the shape.
So this cover is very much an invocation of place. There isn’t an actual shrine around here like this one, but as there have been people living here for as long as there have been people… I like to think there was something.
When a Pagan Prays;