The Turnaway Girls
Published this week, the new novel by Hayley Chewins is a beautiful, rather stirring book about what happens when you try to silence girls’ voices.
South African-based author Hayley set her novel in the fictional Blightsend, where singing is not allowed, so the girls (led by 12-year-old Delphernia) sing in secret. Outside, The Masters — men — make music. Indoors, the women and girls turn that music into gold — a process they called ‘shimmering’. The bleak landscape of Blightsend (great name!) and the curling, far-reaching sounds of the girls’ golden voices needed capturing for this cover, so a woven network of musical staves was created as a centrepiece in which Delphernia herself stands, arms to the moon and flanked by her ‘marble’ birds.
There were relatively few roughs got this cover — for me, anyway, since I usually send quite a few — which made the job of narrowing down easier. Working with art director Pam at Candlewick Press, we quickly established the bits we liked via a series of looser-than-usual thumbnails, with notes. This has proved a great way of getting all the ideas out quickly, without committing too many hours to a version which might not prove to be ‘the one’:
Once we’d dissected these ideas, I worked up a shortlist in more detail. At the core of this cover was to be the music, the birds, Delphernia herself, and the foreboding landscape. The music was realised through a tree-like structure made of staves, golden leaves pinging from each ‘branch (we did not yet now we would be treated to gold foil!)
The winner was chosen, and thus began the process of working up the separate components. Though I sometimes create artwork ‘in one take’ — as a single piece of completed artwork — which I love — this is is my most common way of putting a cover together, due to the probability of having to make adjustments and micro-movements as we progress the cover, and the need to tweak background colours throughout, for optimised reproduction.
Watch the time-lapse of this bit happening!
All of the original artwork — now in the proud hands of the author — was created in acrylic-based drawing inks on thick cartridge for the most part; the stony buildings of Blightsend were probably my favourite bit to do though, on fat, knotty watercolour board.
I got to completely make up a fictional landscape and gnarly sea! Spiky it is then…
My vast inky sky, made of five shades of blue ink on A2 paper, were added to anchor the details, with a collaged ink-wash-moon…
And here illustration, compiled in Photoshop over many hours and with countless (labelled, of course) layers of all the ink work, is the completed cover — the US edition, and the very ethereal UK version due out in January.
Thank you to Candlewick press for inviting me to do this cover…and going all-out on the gold foiled cover! I hope Hayley is already writing a sequel…