This story begins a few years back and I was reminded of it today as I have just finished reading a brilliant book. ( This time the book in question is The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, but more of that later. Then it was Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.) I felt bereft and mentioned this, on facebook, or on my blog. Anyway someone got in touch and suggested that I read The Liveships Trilogy if I wanted something good to read. I bought the first book and fell head over heels with the writing.
Meanwhile I had an email from a woman who wanted to buy a print because her friend had sent her a card for Christmas and she loved it. The card was from the Musicians Benevolent Fund, the Cavalcade. The sender was Jo Fletcher, then editor at Orion and the recipient was Jane Johnson, editor at Voyageur, Harper Collins.
What happened next had an air of magic about it. Jane emailed to say the print had arrived and she loved it. She said that she was working on the repackaging of some books and would I be interested. They were fantasy fiction. I was so busy I wasn’t sure which way was up and very glibly said, ‘only if they’re by Robin Hobb.’ How astonished was I when it turned out that the books in question were indeed the three trilogies and how wonderful has it been to work on these and subsequent books by Robin. Well, imagine getting paid to read the books that you most enjoy in all the world and that will come close. Hard to put it in words, so here is a journey through pictures, starting with sketches and finishing with the sketch for Blood of Dragons, next on the list, out next year.
The first thing I had to do was really hard. I was half way through the second Liveships book and I had to stop and leave Althea and Brashen and meet Fitz. Then it was a matter of trying to find a key, a way in that would work over all of the books. Not easy when you have the glorious art of John Howe shaping how you see the characters and places in the book.
Jane and Emma from Voyageur sent me a box of books. All the Hobb’s and some other writer, huge book, George RR Martin, something about a Game of Thrones. This was another writer and series on their list, huge books, very classy covers. This was the kind of look they were aiming for she said, with a single image and a watercolour wash.
Sometimes the ideas came easy, other times it was harder, and now and again I just had to think of something else. It was thought that my picture of Icefire and Tintaglia might not be quite suitable. I painted it anyway, although a different image was used.
Then I could get back to the Liveships, but it is different when you read and have to search for a cover. So often when reading Robin’s books I forget that it is work.
Within these pages dwells one of the most outstanding pirates in literature. One thing that a friend said after I had introduced her to Robin’s books was that reading them reminded her of that all encompassing pleasure you get when reading when you are a child, when everything is just washed away by the words and all that is left is you washed away in the pages of your book. I think that just about sums it up. And yet her books are more, so much more. The language, characters, character development, plot. Perfect.
Next was a return to The Rainwilds, with the Rainwild Chronicles. Such an amazing place. I read The Dragon Keeper far too quickly, then Dragon’s Haven. Next City of Dragons and still to be published the astonishing Blood of Dragons.
There are more pieces of art for Robin’s books, and also for books by Megan Lindholm, the wonderful Rheindeer People and Wolf’s Brother, as well as The inheritance, which brings her two selves together in one book. She is an astonishing writer who continues to spin the most marvelous tales.
There is talk of her coming over next year and I have my fingers crossed that this may happen. Also talk of an exhibition of some of the artwork and I am looking in to the possibility of producing prints with some kind of metallic ink overlay to recreate the gold leaf look. Early days yet, but keep an eye out here and at The House of Golden Dreams for more on this.
To see what they look like without type take a look at the photographs from Tenby Museum. I began working on these in 2006, and hope to continue for a very very long time. Blood of Dragons is everything you could ever hope for f you are a fan of Robin’s books. More than that I can’t say. And as for what she is working on now, well…… even if I did know I wouldn’t be telling…… whatever it is it will be brilliant.
In 2014 the story begins all over again. Fool’s Assassin will be launched in August, and so all the covers are being refreshed. Read more about this here:
Postcards of some of the designs are now available from Solva Woollen Mill
‘Words like Coins’ ebook