Today is my stop on The Long Fall blog tour and we find out all about the cover of the book from the design team at Headline.
Designing THE LONG FALL
With Julia Crouch’s new novel THE LONG FALL out this month, cover designer Patrick Insole explains how her stunning new cover look came about.
Designing a cover for Julia Crouch’s brilliantly dark and edgy psychological thriller, THE LONG FALL threw up some interesting challenges, and its Greek setting gave this designer a yearning to head to the scene of the crime…
Unlike a lot of crime and thriller packaging, psychological thrillers tend to demand a subtler approach, dealing in nuances and atmosphere, the aim often being to give a sense of unsettling unease to what would otherwise be an everyday scene or moment.
With The Long Fall, as is often the case, it was important not to try to tell too much of the story – the novel spans different times and places, and getting everything in would be nigh on impossible. Much of the nerve-shredding enjoyment of reading the book comes from slowly piecing together how the characters are linked to the shocking event that begins the book, and the cover is about reinforcing that link without giving anything away.
We quickly established that we wanted the cover image to be set in Greece, the location for that initial scene. A straightforward decision, but one that presented its own difficulties – the main one being how to get across a sense of drama and threat in an image of a sun-drenched Greek island. Picture research involved trawling through hundreds of images of all too idyllic Greek locations – lots of tastefully dilapidated ruins and rugged, often barren coastline, but nothing that quite set the right tone. In desperation I even went back through photos from my own holidays to Greece but, though a lovely trip down memory lane, I couldn’t really see any of my attempts at artful sunsets or picturesque plates of souvlaki making for a particularly strong cover image.
It became clear that we were going to have to resort to a little trickery to get the feel we wanted. I liked the composition of this image taken, as chance would have it, in Ikaria, the setting for the first moments in the book – despite the cheerful blue skies and azure seas, it had the slightly vertigo inducing feel I was after, with that lone tree clinging precariously to the edge, and the distant coastline adding to the sense of height.
© Percy Ryall/Alamy
By playing with the contrast and taking much of the saturation out of the image, we were able to inject some much needed drama, and some additional threat was provided by some carefully placed clouds. And some gulls. Because everyone knows gulls are evil. It was a tricky balancing act – too much contrast and it starts to look like a bleak Dartmoor tor rather than rugged Greek coastline.
Introducing a figure was important too, providing a useful narrative pull without, once again, giving anything away.
The type was, in a way, the most straightforward part of the cover – the title lends itself to a strong, bold treatment, and the crisp, geometric lines of the typeface Gotham just felt right in contrast with the more organic and tumbledown scene behind, with just a hint of texture to soften the otherwise stark white lettering.
The resulting cover is, I hope, full of the right atmosphere and sets the tone for the gripping story that unfolds within. For me, particularly given the cover was designed at the height of the wettest, most miserable British winter in living memory, it left me with an urgent need to book my next holiday somewhere hot and sunny, the Greek Islands being top of the list. Though lonely walks along rocky cliffs will not be on the itinerary…
And here’s what Julia thinks of the new cover…
When Headline said they were going to redesign my ‘look’, I was in two minds. Part of me was sad, because I really liked the existing, elliptical feel of the covers of Cuckoo, Every Vow You Break and Tarnished, but I was also excited, because change brings so many possibilities. As a former graphic designer – although with no book cover experience – I am aware of the need to update and keep things fresh. Typefaces that might have looked bold and contemporary a couple of years ago start to appear a little tired, or derivative – even if the only thing they are copying is themselves. And, similarly, the use of imagery, angle and colour goes in waves in book covers – something that works for one author is then adopted by another publisher for another book and then, ironically, the original can start to look like a copy… So I was so pleased to see the new look for The Long Fall. Patrick has achieved that design holy grail of something that manages to look fresh and clean while also appearing to have been there for ever. I love the clean, clear, crisp type – it will really stand out on a shelf, as well as when reduced down to icon size. And the
drama of the image – the tension between the figure, the height and distance and those looming birds really captures some of the dilemmas my protagonist faces during her journey through my twisted story. Headline has this great policy of allowing authors to have some input into their covers. I tend to prefer to step back, because I know that it is such a specialist area of design. I think the only two things I have done here are to change the clothes of the woman – the original positional had her in trousers, which I didn’t feel right about – and to ask for the broken down effect – I have been using my diaries from when I was an eighteen year old backpacker, and have come to love their bent and broken covers. Something in me felt that it would be a good move for the novel, too. I have to say I love it! And, like every author, I really can’t wait to see it laid out on shop bookshelves. Patrick is a genius.
THE LONG FALL is published June 19 2014
Follow Julia on Twitter: @thatjuliacrouch
And here are all the stops on the blog tour: