Thursday, February 28, 2013

HILD cover reveal

This is the cover of my novel Hild, which will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on 12 November 2013. (Why, yes, that is 11.12.13.)

I love it.

  • Cover designer: Charlotte Strick (art editor of the Paris Review, art director at Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
  • Cover artists: Anna and Elena Balbusso (multiple award-winning Italian twin sisters who have done some cracking work illustrating classics by people like Pushkin and Atwood).
This, obviously, is a JPEG so the colours are a wee bit unreliable. The physical object, though, will be stunning: uncoated, textured coverstock with the main title in gleaming gold. Drop-dead gorgeous.

I love the way Hild looks directly at her audience, utterly self-contained. I particularly admire the Botticelli-like face, and her hair, which is the exact shade of chestnut I'd imagined.
So, as I say, I love this cover—which is a miracle considering I had only one suggestion regarding the illustration: No representation of Hild! My editor, Sean McDonald (who has been my editor since Stay and, for some reason, seems to think I'm worth the aggravation) sighed and said, basically, The book's called HILD. She needs to be on the jacket.

I got a bit definite. No, I said. The novel starts with Hild aged 3. It closes with her aged 19. And she's a singular girl-woman who lives at the very edges of the constraints of her time—but is still constrained. How the fuck are you going to convey that? No. Absolutely not.

The response? The magisterial silence of an Editor Who Knows Best.

And, the thing is, in this regard he's right. Hild is in every single scene of this 200,000-word novel (though not every scene is from her point of view). She is the book; the book is her. She has to be on the cover. Just because that's impossible doesn't mean we shouldn't try do it anyway. After all, that's what I did in the writing. Why not in the illustration?

So in the end I explained how I wanted the cover to look—lush, forceful, dangerous (the way the weather is dangerous), stern, rich, luxurious, spare, clear, and other (often paradoxical; Hild's like that) things I don't remember—and put it from my mind.

And then I got this. A girl-woman with the thousand-yard stare of someone who has faced death and made terrible decisions since the age of eight, who looks out with the clarity of one who knows life is an undiscovered country full of joy and patterns to be understood. She was born in very difficult circumstances and survives because she has an extraordinary mind and a will of adamant.

What do you think?