Tag Archives: Rain McAlistair

Guest Blog – Rain McAlistair

9 Aug

Leaving Front CoverToday’s guest blog comes from Rain McAlistair who’s just published her latest novella Leaving. Here she tells us a little about her approach to designing her distinctive book covers.

Never judge a book by its cover, warns the old saying. But we all do, don’t we? Whether we are in a bookshop, faced with hundreds of brightly coloured real-life covers, or whether we are scrolling through internet pages of thumbnails, we all assume that a good cover means a good story.

There are just so many books to choose from. I believe we look for the cover that seems to speak to us as individuals. I definitely select books for deeper investigation which have covers that appeal to me most strikingly.

If you went into a bookshop and saw a book with a perfectly plain brown cover, decorated with only a title, would you buy it? I suspect not, because the cover is an important aesthetic part of what makes up the art form we call ‘a book.’

Way back in time, people put a lot of care and attention into the binding of books. Gold, silver and jewels were used to adorn ancient covers. Later, they were bound in leather or cloth.

Book covers have come a long way since my parents’ generation. My dad used to call them ‘dust jackets’. Their original purpose was to protect the book from scuffs and dirt, leaving the plain cover in pristine condition. All that changed with the arrival of the paperback onto the market. Now the purpose of a cover is to give us an exciting glimpse of the story inside.

I remember as a child going to a tiny library and sifting through the different cover designs, each speaking of tantalising delights within. There is a particular joy in holding a book in your hand. The cover invites you and gives you permission to look inside. It’s an appetiser for the banquet to come.

In the lesbian fiction section, there is a whole range of different cover types to choose from. So how do we, as authors, make that all-important choice?

I like to have my cover completed well before I finish each book. I print it out and prop it up on my desk, and it inspires me as I write. The cover is an integral part of the book. I am aware that when someone reads one of my books they are looking at the cover all the time.

There are a lot of options at hand before I start to design the cover. Do I use a photograph or a drawing? Or maybe just lettering on an abstract background. What is my colour scheme going to be this time? What font shall I use for my title?

When I wrote my first book, Dove, I wanted to symbolise the isolation my two main characters felt from the rest of the world during the story and also wanted to show how their lives were inextricably interlinked. I chose a picture by one of my favourite photographers which shows two trees, standing apart from anything else with their branches intertwined.

In my second book, Bridge, the bridge is central to the story and also very symbolic. I had a mental picture of the bridge in the story and searched long and hard to find a photograph which matched the vision in my mind.

For Moonchaser, I broke the pattern and went with a colour picture. It just seemed right for that particular book

Rain McAlistairMy latest novel is called Leaving. I wanted to show that a gateway can be both a barrier and the means of finding freedom. Which of these it turns out to be is entirely up to the person standing at the gates. The gateway is the pivotal point when one’s life can change so I wanted to focus very much on that moment of decision. I commissioned a photographer I had used before and explained what I was trying to convey. He understood and produced exactly the image I had in mind.

I also want my covers to be instantly recognisable as Rain McAlistair books so I have tried to keep a theme going in the design I use. Just for fun I have sometimes mocked up versions of my books with the same titles but different covers and it completely changes the whole feel of the book. Ultimately it all comes down to creating an atmosphere. The cover is the theme music to the opening of the book. I hope my music is harmonious and evocative and rings in the air long after the book is closed.

You can find out more about Rain and her books on her website.

News Roundup: In Which A Whole Host of Authors Are Doing Exciting Things!

24 Jun

If there’s anything sticky smeared on this update, worry not, it’s only marmalade. I dragged myself out of my pit good and early just to bring you the news. How’s that for commitment? And yes, it’s just taken me three attempts to spell commitment correctly, I fear this may not end well…

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divaFirst up this week, exciting times for two of our most popular authors, Kiki Archer and Clare Ashton, who have a swanky feature in this month’s Diva magazine. In the article, Kiki and Clare chat about the joys and pitfalls of Indie publishing, and give some pointers to authors who may be thinking of heading in that direction. The July issue of Diva is widely available right now.

Kiki’s novels have also been highlighted as great beach reads in the July-August Curve magazine. That issue should also be on the news stands as I type.

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rainWe’ve welcomed another new author to the site in the last couple of days. Rain McAlistair started writing in 2010 and has since published three Indie novels – DoveBridge, and Moonchaser. A fourth novel is currently in progress but, in her own words, “it’s early days yet.”  Born in Warwickshire, Rain has since settled in the West of Ireland. We’re looking forward to hearing more from Rain in the not too distant future. In the meantime, you can find out all about her on her website.

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Cherry PottsAfter an open call to UK authors on this site a few weeks ago, Cherry Potts has recorded a Bar Rag with the ladies from The Cocktail Hour podcast. Cherry chatted with hosts Andy and Cheri, and then read from her short story collection, Mosaic of Air. You can listen to the Bar Rag by hitting the above link, and anyone who leaves a comment on the page will be entered into a draw to win a copy of Cherry’s current release, Lover’s Lies.

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Some new and upcoming releases now…

Crin Claxton‘s début novel Scarlet Thirst has had a revamp (ha, no pun intended!) and has been reissuedBSB_Scarlet_Thirst by BSB as an e-book. You can buy it on Kindle or directly from the BSB website. You want a little teaser? Oh g’wan then:

One rainy February night, cool butch vampire Rob Perdoni is bowled over by Rani Shah and immediately wants to date her. Rani is tough and gorgeous, just the sort of woman Rob likes. Trouble is, she’s human. Rani, on the other hand, doesn’t believe vampires exist. But before she can say, “Bite me,” she’s taking a roller-coaster ride from femme on the streets to vampire between the sheets.

Meanwhile, Nicola Griffith‘s forthcoming novel Hild is available to pre-order (Kindle and hardcover) and has picked up its first review over at Publisher’s Weekly:

Griffith goes boldly into the territory, lingering over landscape, wallowing in language, indulging the senses, mixing historical fact with feminist fiction in a sweeping panorama of peasants working, women weaving, children at play, and soldiers in battle: the Dark Ages transformed into a fantasy world of skirt and sword.

Hild is due for release on November 12th.

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Rounding out the news this week with two authors who are keeping themselves good and busy.

admin-ajaxA guest blog by author and film maker Rachel Dax will be posted over at Kim Taylor Blakemore’s website tomorrow. In the feature, Rachel will be discussing  the portrayal of women prisoners in film, the reality of both the prisoners’ and the guards’ lives, and how the film Yield to the Night became the inspiration for her novel After the Night.

We are also hoping to bring you a feature from Rachel in the not too distant future (i.e. by the end of the week – fingers and toes crossed!)

Andrea Bramhall announced this week that she will be polishing off her passport (and possibly packing her thermals!) to head to Provincetown, USA for Women’s Week. The annual lesbian festival in this gayest of all American small towns will run from 14-20 October, and features a schedule cram-packed with well, a bit of everything really. You can read all about the event on their main website.

For anyone thinking of heading over for the week, I highly recommend the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop where the portions are so large I almost did myself a mischief trying to finish one. But before I allow myself to become distracted by peach-flavoured reminisces, Andrea has also participated in the Women & Words 1 Question, 10 Answers. Find out which of her characters she would like to take a road trip with, here.

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I’m sure there was something else I needed to…Mmmm…

b&J