The next Forest Avenue Press book, The Story of the Hundred Promises, by Neil Cochrane, is an adult fairytale, loosely based on Beauty and the Beast, with a trans protagonist. How cool is that? It's got a mysterious enchanter and a magical rose bush and silver trees that withstand human greed (!). This was one of those books whose premise gave me a fairly instant idea of what I wanted to experiment with for the cover, and I knew it would be fun.
I love old book covers, and I love emulating their styles and bringing them into a modern aesthetic, as I got to do with The Alehouse at the End of the World (illuminated manuscripts) and Froelich's Ladder (fancy mid-to-late-1800s books). For this cover, I looked at a lot of beautiful old storybooks.
(Granted, Neil's novel isn't a kids' book either, so we're even.)
I love the detail in these fancy, old book covers, and I love the simple, elegant color schemes. For my own experimenting, I started with greens and golds because I knew that the environment I wanted to depict in my design was something woodsy—to instantly evoke a fairytale feel and because I was going to include the tree and rose elements from Neil's story.
Putting together a design like this one is sort of like putting together a puzzle. Or maybe more particularly putting together a puzzle blindfolded, because you don't know how the pieces fit together until they fit together. I built the title first, using a font to determine placement but then breaking the letters and augmenting them for my storybook ornamentation. Here's a very messy picture of that process in progress.
Bonus on the purple: purple, white, yellow and black are the colors of the nonbinary pride flag. 😄😄😄
“It wasn’t just the forest. There was some huge storm, a quake, a cataclysm they say,” Ceara said. “There were floods and rockslides; the road broke into pieces, houses collapsed. Plenty of people died—that’s when the Barrow was built. And the trees petrified. You can’t cut them at all now.”
“A natural disaster,” said the older officer.
“A storm doesn’t turn trees to stone,” Ceara shot back.
“What does?” Darragh asked.
She looked back at him, eyes wide, and said, “Magic. But not like the alchemists. My gran, he said—”
“Your gran is so old he hardly remembers his name.”
“Yes, so old he was alive when it happened!” Ceara replied. “He was too young to remember himself, but his parents told him all about it, and they always warned my parents to stay away from the forest, because something dark and powerful lived there. It got angry when people chopped down the forest, and it punished them.”
The older officer huffed again, more forcefully this time. Darragh glanced at them, then leaned into Ceara and said, softly, “I believe you.”
She smiled and, suddenly shy, bobbed her head and left him to study the map.