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Picturing a World

Jacket design

Website alert: I'm a sucker for Philip Pullman's fiction and Chris Wormell's art, so I was tickled by a Pullman tweet on a 25th Anniversary edition of Northern Lights. But what really interested me as I poked around from there was an earlier website piece on How Tom Sanderson designed Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage. Authors and illustrators get a lot of attention. Jacket designers don't, but their craft is essential to an attractive book. If you're interested in how it's all done, read the article!

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Jennings’ Undine Love

Kathleen Jennings, 2020 illus. for "Undine Love"

A post, Undine Love: Reprint, new art, at Kathleen Jennings' blog took me to the reprint of her story, "Undine Love," in full at Tor. What a treat—both the story and the silhouettes! They are a reminder that updating a fairy tale or folkloric motif can be a great way to begin a story of your own. The backbone of plot comes essentially ready-made, leaving you free to work on other aspects of composition—setting, character, dialogue, incidents (as opposed to the underlying structure). The talent to illustrate would be a big bonus—and might just affect the tone and finished piece. Wish I had the talent and the training!

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Disparities

Good news! Bookstores are reopening in Massachusetts. Shopping in one of my favorites, the Bookloft, requires an appointment; but the store has a good website. For summer reading, I have just ordered a Martin Walker mystery and a boxed set of N. K. Jemisin's Broken Earth Trilogy.
 
Bad news: I have also just read an article about disparities in pay between white and black authors. Good grief. Jemisin, who is black, was given advances of just $25,000 for each volume of the trilogy—each one of which won the Hugo Award for Fiction (the third also won the Nebula Award).

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Book and Illustration (6): Little, Big

Sixteen years in the making and still counting. An Incunabula Press project to publish a fine edition of John Crowley's fantasy novel, Little Big was officially launched in February 2004. It is to be illustrated—or decorated—with details from artist Peter Milton's surrealistic etchings.  Hopes for publication in 2010 led to the design of the title page. The Little, Big website allows you to read a sample chapter on line.

 

What interests me for this series of blog posts is the idea of combining an existing novel with totally unrelated existing artwork. People ask, would I like to see an illustrated edition of Where the Light Falls? Well, of course! I began this blog to show readers the paintings, sketches, and photographs that influenced me while writing the novel. An e-book with links to such works would be one method of illustrating it.

 

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Book and illustration (4): Lost Words

Jackie Morris's superb paintings and Robert MacFarlane's intriguing "spells" combine in The Lost Words to make a book that is greater than the sum of its equally splendid parts. You would treasure a print of any of the pictures; you might memorize one of the clever acrostic verses (spells as MacFarlane punningly calls them) to chant against the evils of our days. Together with the book's size, depth of color printing, and lovely page design (including a set of puzzles that delight once you figure out what they are doing), they combine into a classic.

 

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Stenographer or reporter?

Mattie Palmer, the heroine of ANONYMITY, my work-in-progress, is a “stenographer” or secretary in a publishing firm. Before going to New York around 1900, she had been a reporter in Cincinnati.

So far, I haven’t been able to find the short story, “A Girl Who Became a Reporter,” for which this is an illustration;  Read More 
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Fluffy Ruffles

And now for a working woman of a different sort: Meet Fluffy Ruffles, heroine of a weekly syndicated feature of the New York Herald. An heiress who has lost her fortune and keeps trying out new jobs to make a living, she first appeared in 1906. By 1908, she'd had musical written about her—with music by Jerome Kern, no less. Read More 
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Labor Day

If you write historical fiction set in Progressive-Era New York City, there is a good argument for setting it a little later than 1908. The Masses, for instance, began publication in January 1911; and the great suffragist parades were staged in New York City in 1912 and Washington, D.C. in 1913 (with Inez Milholland on horseback). In 1908, however, the ideas, unrest, and hope for a better future that blazed out in the coming years were already stirring. To help me imagine what they felt and looked like from 1900 through World War I, I’ve just discovered a wonderful resource, The Modernist Journals Project from Brown University and The University of Tulsa. It supplied this iconic cover—and has complete digitized issues of several important magazines of the period. Read More 
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