MOTHTOWN by Caroline Hardaker, illustrated by Chris Riddell (COVER REVEAL)
Today, we’re thrilled to bring you the cover reveal for Caroline Hardaker’s upcoming novel Mothtown which will be published by Angry Robot on 14th November.
Before we get to discussing the cover, here’s what the book is all about:
As a child, David could tell something was wrong.
The kids in school spread rumours of missing people, nests of bones and bodies appearing in the mountains. His sister refused to share what she knew, and his parents turned off the TV whenever he entered the room. Protecting him, they said.
Worse, the only person who shared anything at all with him, his beloved grandpa, disappeared without a goodbye. Mum and Dad said he was dead. But what about the exciting discovery Grandpa had been working on for his whole life?
Now 26, David lives alone and takes each day as it comes. When a strange package arrives on his doorstep, one with instructions not to leave the Earth, a new world is unfurled before David, one he’s been trying to suppress for years…
We’ll now hand you over to Caroline who has a few words to share about how her cover was conceptualised:
Book covers can be so difficult to get right. How is it possible to encapsulate 80,000 words or so in one image? To satisfy a publisher, author, bookshops, AND attract readers at the same time?
It took a while for the team to come to a final cover for Mothtown. It’s a book about so many things; mystery, the landscape, secret doorways, loneliness, parallel worlds… Not to forget moths. After reading the novel, the team knew that it needed something conceptual. A cover that would evoke a Kafka or dark Murukami feel. And finally, after working on many cover ideas for several months, we eventually settled on almost the first design the team came up with. An anonymous head, opening up like Pandora’s box to reveal a misty wooded terrain within.
The cover says both a lot and not very much, which is just perfect for David’s story. He says a lot and not very much too. It’s one of those covers that will likely mean something else when you reach the end of the story, and I LOVE that. Like Mothtown itself, it’s a mystery and a spectacle. Enter its labyrinth, and who knows where you’ll end up…
Cover artist: Sarah O’Flaherty
Chris Riddell, the creator of the novel’s inside illustrations, offered the moth perched on one section of the head. This scuttling little creature ties together perfectly the cover’s contemporary style and Chris’ sketchy, lyrical, fluid, instantly-recognisable illustrations printed throughout the story.
Initially, it was Chris himself who suggested creating some illustrations for the book. As he is one of my most favourite illustrators, I couldn’t take him up on the offer fast enough. He was one of the book’s earliest readers, and began sketching out the first three illustrations early on, before the book was even completely edited. His eerie, inky, textured characters bring to life the soul of Mothtown perfectly. He captures the darkness at the heart of David’s psyche and has illustrated – not the literal depiction of the words themselves – but something far more abstract. He sees through the eyes of David and documents David’s experience like David would himself, if he was able to. They’re just wonderful.
I’ve long thought that blending words and illustrations can evoke more magic than words alone. Graphic novels, comics, and illustrated poetry are on the rise and for good reason. We connect with words, incanting them aloud in our heads as we tell the story, like a spell or way of summoning a feeling. But having illustrations alongside them, offers both a short sharp shock via insights into a character’s mind, and also shadows and shapes to muse upon as we read, lingering in the corners of our minds.
So here’s to more illustrated novels, please!
As a special treat, here’s one of Chris Riddell’s images from Mothtown:
A note from Caroline on the illustration that is included with the reveal:
“This particular illustration, showing David and his Grandad together, is one from earlier on in the novel. This moment of sadness and love is central to David’s world, something he never forgets. It haunts him, even when he’s travelled far and transformed himself into someone his Grandad wouldn’t recognise. It’s a small moment that sets David on a journey for the rest of the novel.”
A note from Chris Riddell on his accompanying illustrations for Mothtown:
“It was a privilege to be allowed to respond to this extraordinary novel visually. I wanted to convey my response to the moments that resonated with me and, I hope, the reader. I used brush and ink and a pastel pencil and drew as freely as possible with no under drawing. My intention was for these images to resonate rather than illustrate in any literal way, brief flashes of ink and dust amidst the compelling text.”
You can pre-order Mothtown HERE