song of the slums

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Making the Cover

Early Cover Ideas

First Version

Final Version

Designing the text

Cathy Larsen


Final version

The story so far … the author has just thrown a spanner in the works by saying that the figures are too genuinely Victorian-looking! I must be getting used to the marketing side of things, because once I'd have only cared about the wonderful look of the cover, not the 'signals' to potential readers.

I do have a justification in terms of the story itself - which is set in a Victorian-like world, but an alternative version of same. It's a world where rock 'n roll can be invented 100 years before it's arrival in real history , so there's room for inventive anachronism. Isn't that the spirit of steampunk, anyway? It's not meant to be true history!

So I'd given Cathy a monster headache, and time was rapidly running out before the deadline when the cover had to go to the printer. Over to Cathy again -

"Oh dear! Then I had to find some more models, find costumes for them and arrange a studio shot of the figures so I could drop them into my already shot lane.

"Then the hunt was on! I asked around among friends as to who might know someone of the right appearance.
I persuaded a friend of mine Katie Thorn who has amazing red gold hair to model the part of Astor."

(Astor's copper-coloured hair features in a big way in the book.)

"Her outfit was borrowed from friends and topped off with a leather corset belt of mine.
Nan's [an editor friend] son Tibby Novak modelled Verrol. Tibby brought his electric guitar which later was transformed into something more steampunk."

(And huge thanks to Tibby, because he shaved off his beard to play the part of clean-shaven Verrol. Sheez, the sacrifices that have been made on the way to getting the perfect cover!)

"I enlisted the photographer Tim deNeefe for a studio shot of the new couple. I supplied him with a jpeg of the existing shot for him to match the camera angle and lighting so the figures would match in with the lane.

(The photos on this page were taken by Nan McNab - who also helped save the day when Katie didn't have the right sort of boots. A major problem, because she has tiny feet - size 5s, I think. Nan ran round op hand shops in Melbourne and found a pair to fit the bill.

Descending the page, Nan's photos show:

(i) Cathy lifting Katie’s hair a little higher

(ii) Tim and Cathy confer over camera distance, etc. (Note how different Tibby and Katie are in height - you'd never guess with the foreshortening on the cover!

(iii) Getting ready to run (how did they ever appear to be hurtling so fast when they only had a couple of yards to do it in?)

(iv) Cathy starts putting it together on the computer

Back to Cathy again -

"Katie and Tibby did a great job repeatedly running into the set in the studio until we got the perfect shot."

"Then I had to deep etch the new figures, tint them and place them in the lane photo."

"The I got the back cover blurb, designed the back cover and spine and supplied the artwork to the publisher - finally! :-)"


And only just in the nick of time, I heard! There were months to play with at the start, but at the end it came down to mere hours on the very final deadline day!

So here it is, the beautiful cover with the beautiful lettering of its title, and only one thing still missing - the very generous blurb from another Kate (Kate Forsyth).

Hey, I can hardly look at those wet cobblestones without thinking of the scummy water that had to be applied to make them glisten!

For more on the lettering that created the title, check out Designing the Text.


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