Two years ago, I wrote about how much I loved the cover for my forthcoming novel Surface Tension. In fact, I loved it so much that it helped me re-write the book. I loved the dreamy quality of the image, the muted colours, the hazy lack of clarity, the stylised but somehow childlike way the drowned town was represented.
When I was told that Candlewick wanted to re-jacket the book for its US release, I wondered what they could possibly come up with that could match it. To be honest, I was a little skeptical, a little apprehensive.
I have a new cover.
I’ve liked all my covers well enough – some more, some less, as is the way of things.
But this cover? I love it. And in a curious kind of reversal, in some ways the cover is responsible for the book.
I wrote this book in 2009 and it was a bit of a mess. I would probably have given up on it but for the fact that I had a grant from the kind people at the Department of Culture and the Arts, and felt beholden to actually produce something.
I wrote it and rewrote it and moved scenes around and moved them back again and deleted them altogether and stepped away from the manuscript and started over – again and again. I tore out metaphorical chunks of hair and really thought the whole thing was dead in the water.
I am still in the trenches. Last week, I said I would pop my head up again, “all things being well”.
That may be something of an overstatement. The novel goes slowly, more slowly than it needs must (is that an actual sentence? It sounds like it should be. I guess this sort of digression has something to do with why the novel goes slowly. If I’m having to ask what constitutes a sentence, I am clearly in trouble).
But today was better than yesterday. There is progress. And that is a good thing, on a Thursday, when the book is due on a Monday.
Okay, I know I talk a lot of talk about ducks, about Duck the First and Duck the Second as if they are actual books, rather than just ideas quacking softly in a corner of my brain.
But over the last few months I have been watching quietly while Duck the First came into being. I have seen pencil sketches of a little girl working at her desk, of a slightly grotty boy hanging over her backyard from a branch. I have squeed over colour roughs of Abby and Noah and Mrs Melvino and most of all, Max – the
difficult demanding different duck who takes up residence in Abby’s class.
I have been thrilled and delighted by the work of the wonderful Leila Rudge. It’s not that the characters are as I’d imagined them, that I feel satisfied seeing ‘my’ vision come to life. The truth is that I’m not much of a visual thinker and am not sure I had imagined them in any great detail at all. It’s rather that they are just so absolutely right for the book. Illustrators are wizards, I tell you.
As you may know, The Big Dig is my next book in the Lightning Strikes series. I’ve been madly going back and forth with my editor trying to finalise the manuscript for the last month or so (it is more important than you can possibly imagine to make sure all the commas are in the right places!) and now it’s finally done. And even better than that, I have a cover, which is fantastic. By which I mean that it is fantastic that I have a cover, because the book would look naked without one, but more importantly that the cover itself is fantastic (see how important those commas are?). The real thing will be even more sparkly and fabulous, but for now, here is a taste:
In other news, I have completed the manuscript of Duck the Second and sent it off to my editor. Cross your webbed digits for me!
Shhh! I saw a cover. It was a blue cover. It was a grey cover. It had skateboards, several. It had my name on it. It had the title Going for Broke in shiny foiled letters. It was very, very cool. And now I can post it, so here it is:
Going for Broke will be released in May this year as part of Walker Books’ new Lightning Strikes series. The series will kick off with six books and I’ll be in the fine company of authors such as Robyn Opie and James Roy. I have a feeling this is going to be fun!
Sadly, we have had to lose the subtitle “One World Record, Fifty-Two Tiny Bones”, but I suspected that would happen at some point.
Here’s the cover image I’ve chosen for my little book of poetry:
The artist is the marvellous Nevin Hirik. Her work is so richly evocative and I love the figurative interplay between the image and the title, Cleanskin. It was quite challenging coming up with a title, but when I sat down to look at the manuscript as a whole, I realised that many of the poems are about the body, identity, memory, the complex negotiations between the past and present. So when I came across the word ‘cleanskin’ buried in the middle of one of the pieces, it seemed apt.