Welcome to my blog. I am not a very regular blogger, but I try to keep this site updated with news and information. If there's none of the above I may just share my random ruminations.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Designing the cover for Life Class.

To tell the story of how the cover to Life Class came about, I have to go back further, to the genesis of the story. I’d attended a life class for years and knew that one day I would write a book with that title. But I had no idea about my characters ... or the plot ... or anything really! I decided that to kick-start my imagination, I needed to choose jobs for my characters. I began to consider my friends. I lighted upon a woman I knew who, at the time, did a very interesting job, a job which brought her into contact with people at a profoundly vulnerable point in their lives. Although the personality, biography and appearance of my heroine, Dory, is nothing like my friend’s, I gave Dory the same job, a lab technician at a sexual health clinic. The assumptions she might make about the people she met during her working day - maybe people she already knew in quite another context - could lead her into misjudgments and ethical dilemmas.

So I had my heroine, but I then I needed a hero. I had another friend who, at the time, worked as an admin assistant to a man who designed and sold fountains. It struck me that designing fountains was an unusual and interesting job. But I was thinking in terms of the artistic and creative side of the job. My friend put me right. Her boss was an engineer not an artist, dealing more in the science of hydraulics and water flow. But the spark had been lit. What I wanted, I decided, was more a sculptor than an engineer. In fact, when I thought about it, why bother with fountains at all? Fountains added an unnecessary complication. After all, a figurative sculptor is someone who himself needs to study the human form, but in a class set-up he would be more likely to be the teacher rather than a student. So there were my bare bones. Fortunately I knew two sculptors with whom I could do research. I could talk to them about their craft, their attitudes to their work and how they went about getting commissions, but more than that, I wanted to know how it felt to sculpt. I had dabbled in the past with clay, but wanted a more in-depth experience. So I signed on for a two day workshop with one of the sculptors I knew, Elisabeth Hadley. www.hadleysculptures.co.uk/ I loved it, and while doing the workshop I took a series of photographs. I also visited a foundry, where sculptures are cast in bronze, so that I had an overview of the process from beginning to end. When I’d finished writing Life Class and was preparing it for publication, I looked again at those photographs I’d taken during the work-shop. In one of them my own clay sculpture is seen in the foreground, the model is reclining in the background. I thought it might make a good cover. Although she is unrecognisable, I asked the model for permission to use the image.

This is the second e-book cover I have produced myself. I have an art and design back-ground and so, when I published TORN, I decided to try to do the cover myself. I enjoyed choosing an image, cropping it, manipulating the colour saturation and the size, then designing the layout and playing around with the different fonts. Although I ultimately did manage to come up with a cover I liked, it was technically quite difficult for me - a computer nincompoop - particularly as I only have the most basic ‘paint’ and ‘photoshop’ programmes.

By the time I came to publishing LIFE CLASS, my standards had gone up. I knew a little more about what was required and knew I should produce a higher quality image. After playing around with the work-shop photograph for awhile I was unable to arrive at a result I was satisfied with, so I talked to my son, Tom. Although he was very busy at the time (he is currently doing a Phd) he volunteered to help me. God bless the internet and computers, which makes it so easy to send documents and images back and forth. In fact, I think Tom enjoyed the respite from his ‘real’ work. He tidied up my effort and put the finishing touches to the final image. So that is how I (and my son) created the cover for LIFE CLASS.

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