It is a super exciting day here on Cuddlebuggery because we’re revealing the cover for Nevernight, the first book in Jay Kristoff’s new fantasy trilogy (to be released August 9th, mark your calendars).
I, personally, am extremely excited about this reveal because guess what? I did the typography for it.
(“WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT” – my entire brain since October)
Because I’m a nice person when it suits me, I’ll show you the cover first and then for anyone who wants to stick around and is passingly curious how I set about this project, I’ll ramble until the cows come home about the process. Sound good? Good.
First, a note from Jay:
I’m a huge typography nerd, and I’d LURRRRVED the work I’d seen Meg do on her Super Awesome Cover Redesign Project. Convincing my editor to let a complete stranger handle the typography, given how awesome Jason’s illustration was . . . well, that took some convincing. But I throw an awesome author tantrum when I have to – I lay on the ground and flail and everything.
When Meg sent through the finished typography laid out on the cover illo, I actually squeed. Squeeeeeeeed like a small orphan boy when given a double helping of gruel at the orphanage xmas dinner. Squeeeeeeeeeeed like Squee McSqueege, winner of last year’s inaugural World Squeeing Championships.
I mean look at it! It’s amazing!
Are you excited? I’m excited. I’m so excited I’m shaking like a kitten that just scrambled out of the bath they accidentally fell in and doesn’t know what the fuck is going on.
HERE WE GO
I feel kind of weird losing my shit over how awesome it is but fuck it, it came out awesomely and working with these incredibly talented people on what is sure to be an incredible book is hands down the coolest career opportunity that has ever come my way. Look at Jason’s amazing illustration, how next level epic murdery is that? I love it.
If this book wasn’t already on your radar you should probably fix that. I mean, check out this synopsis:
The first in an epic new fantasy series from the New York Times and international bestselling author.
In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.
Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.
Now, a sixteen year old Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic — the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.
Let’s recap, shall we? School of assassins. City built from the bones of a dead god. Hunted girl with shadow powers. LADY OF BLESSED MURDER. If that’s not enough for you, Mister Kristoff himself has described the series as “Lies of Locke Lamora meets Harry Potter” which sounds pretty fucking neat to me and I haven’t even read Lies yet. I don’t know about you but I’m all over this, especially when you consider how fantastic (and horribly heartbreaking and awful) The Lotus War trilogy and Illuminae are.
If you’re a pre-ordering sort of person, I highly recommend locking down a copy at one of the following:
How did I get involved with this project? I honestly don’t have a good answer for that on a grand, cosmic scale but in the physical world we inhabit, I got a DM from Jay saying this might be a total long shot and not work out at all but would I be interested in designing the cover typography for his upcoming book. Cue me (literally) falling on the floor (my husband thought I’d had a stroke because of the aforementioned falling and when he asked if I was okay, I just kept making these whimpery keening noises and waving my phone at him).
Anyway, fast forward through some back and forth and me being an undignified level of excited and grateful, I received the illustration and my art direction: “make it awesome (and legible), I have no preconceived notions.” For those following along, this is the absolute best kind of art direction you can receive and it almost never happens. It is also extremely hard on one’s nervous system because omg am I going to live up to that? I’m supposed to do work worthy of a Jason Chan illustration? What am I even doing here how did this happen?
I generally start my typography projects one of two ways, I either hand letter what I’m going for and then pull it into Adobe Illustrator to trace it or I pick an existing font and customize the ever-loving shit out of it. For Nevernight, I did two initial concepts using both processes.
(excuse the quality, contrast boosted for tracing purposes)
For this concept, I was going for a vaguely medieval italian blackletter sort of style (fun type nerd fact, italian blackletter is called rotunda and can be differentiated from northern, germanic blacklettering because it’s rounder) (this is the kind of inane super specific and highly useless information my brain is filled with). I added some flourishes to give a kind of smokey, movement sort of vibe to tie in the whole shadow theme of the book and illustration, and a lot of pointy bits so it would look like it could slit your throat.
Sometimes when I’m eyeballs deep in letters, I’ll start looking at typefaces like ‘man it would be really cool if I took the leg off of this letter and stuck it on here and then kind of wiggled this bit around and redrew my own version of the top half of this one…’ and then the typographer’s equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster is born. That process fairly accurately describes what happened with concept number two. I started with one of my favorite fancy serif fonts and basically hacked it to pieces and put it back together the way I wanted.
Obvs concept two was the winner.
The feedback after this round was that it needed to be more legible. The tricky part with that is that after staring at it for more hours than I feel like sharing, I knew it inside and out and was hopelessly biased. After a quick poll (aka me shoving it in my husband and parent’s faces howling WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS because dramatics are my jam), I concluded that the first E, ER and the I were the primary trouble zones. I played around with those and adjusted the letter spacing and tada! Round two.
Normally on a project like this I’d like to do more variations, but working with heavily customized type vs a font means revisions are kind of a time consuming operation so you have to make your revision time count.
Jay wanted to go with version two and after playing around with his name to increase the symmetry because it turns out we’re both hyper focused detail nerds when it comes to our typography, the final cover for Nevernight was born.
One more time because THIS WHOLE EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN THE COOLEST AND I WILL NEVER BE OVER IT.
Fun fact, I also did a lot of custom typography for the interior of the book but you have to wait until it comes out to see that.
I’ve mentioned before that the entire reason I got into graphic design in the first place is for the theoretical chance that I could design book covers in the far distant future and having gotten the opportunity to work on this book with this author is so beyond what I thought I could achieve at this point in my career. I’m very open about my general state of emotional overwhelmedness but even I am embarrassed to tell you how often I cried during this whole process. Thank you so much Jay for reaching out to me, I honestly can’t express the full magnitude of my gratitude. Thank you Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s for taking a chance on this, I can only imagine what the conversation looked like. And thank you to everyone who has been so amazingly cool and enthusiastic about and promoted the Super Awesome Cover Redesign project, you guys are the best and group hugs all around.
Alright, mush over, on to the giveaway.
I am so excited about this book (and no small amount by the idea of my typography invading your homes) that I’m giving away a pre-order of Nevernight.
- To enter, please fill out the Raffelcopter form below.
- You must be 13+ years to enter
- The giveaway is open to any country The Book Depository ships to (not sure? check this list)
- Please enter your email address in the Rafflecopter form and not the comments.