Congratulations to my London publishers 4th Estate and to the talented Jo Walker who designed the cover for the UK hardcover edition of A Reunion of Ghosts. Jo’s design was short-listed for the 2015 Academy of British Cover Design Award in mass market fiction. To celebrate, here’s an interview with Jo that appeared on the 4th Estate Blog when the hardcover first came out:
BEHIND THE COVER OF A REUNION OF GHOSTS
Today sees the publication day of A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell, a novel so stylishly written that Harper’s Bazaar professed ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if Wes Anderson and Sofia Coppola are slugging it out for the film rights already.’ We took the chance to sit down with the cover designer Jo Walker and ask her exactly what in the novel inspired her to create a cover that somehow encompasses the themes and the style of the book so perfectly.
How did you first go about thinking about a cover for A Reunion of Ghosts? While I was reading the book, I was struck by the description of the gas that Lenz Alter invented. For me, the gas is the origin of the Alter family’s bad luck and I felt that it needed to be the focus of the jacket.
Did you consider any other designs? ‘Initially, I tried working the sisters faces into the clouds but then decided it over-complicated it, I also tried using the elements on the family tree but again, it just didn’t add anything achartnd felt it needed quite a graphic, simple jacket.’
Tell us about the yellow clouds. ‘On the jacket, the three purple clouds represent the sisters and the main yellow cloud is the past that has a hold over them. An abstract idea I know, and it’s a bit of a leap, but to me it made sense! I’m hoping somebody out there will read the book, turn the jacket over and go ‘oooooh’ (I know this is a lot to hope).’
Tell us about the suicide tree. ‘In the manuscript, Judith put in a chart of who committed suicide, how and when, and I found this immensely useful when I was reading the book. I thought it was such a great idea that I wanted to incorporate it in the jacket somehow. Putting a chart on the back would’ve interfered with the back cover copy so I need something simple that would represent it. The family tree with symbols did this perfectly.’