the sound of shiant

the sound of shiant, written by hereward lm proops, is ‘a supernatural thriller set against the vibrant historical backdrop of nineteenth century stornoway and its flourishing herring fishery’.  the book was released to kindle last august and hereward contacted me shortly after as he was keen to get the story into print.  the book was a great read and it wasn’t difficult coming up with ideas for the content of the cover (in fact i was immediately visualising the book as a graphic novel).

the book’s protagonist, inspector edmund forrester, was going to have to be central to the design – he features in other short stories and this is his first full-length outing so the gruff, broken-nosed, webley boxer-carrying detective would have to feature.  i spent an afternoon indulging by drawing the victorian detective about 40 times – each one slightly different to the next.  i sketched out loads of rough compositions for the cover taking inspiration from movie posters, victorian advertising and pulp novels.  i really liked the art nouveau-inspired design but it wouldn’t work when scaled down for the pocket-book sized publication.  i also began to really struggle with the idea that forrester should even be on the front cover – maybe he was so important that he shouldn’t be visualised.  you can see from the finished design that i buried those feelings and he couldn’t be much more prominent.

the title for the book is something i was particularly pleased with – i love this sort of decorative typography from victorian advertising.  i produced a really neat digital version of it in illustrator, but thought it just looked too clean and lifeless, so the version on the cover is my wobbly hand-drawn version and i love it.

the whole project was joy to work on – hereward was great to work with and a happy client at the end of it.  hopefully we’ll see more edmund forrester mysteries – i’d certainly like to work with forrester again.

ps: at the moment the book is available online through lulu, amazon, waterstones and the hebridean store or if you happen to be in the outer hebrides pop into the baltic bookshop, byre books or the ravenspoint centre and you can get a copy in person.   you can also check out the facebook page for more info.

About chris cowdrill

i'm an illustrator, i do graphic design and i teach graphics at a college
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