Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books: Bryony Pearce - Phoenix Burning Blog Tour 2016 (Book Cover Design Process)

I am really pleased to be apart of this blog tour for Bryony Pearce’s second book in the "Phoenix" young adult novel series, which was recently published on 10th March 2016. I really enjoyed reading this book, so why not find out more by reading my review HERE. 

I swear my allegiance to the #BansheeCrew!  We are feared and fearless!  Come and join the crew and find out more about the process of book cover design. 

I was very excited when I was given the brief to design the cover of Phoenix Burning by Bryony Pearce. After really enjoying working on Phoenix Rising, I couldn't wait to start work on the sequel. 

I was asked to create a strong cover which would sit well next to the first title. Ruth, the editor, explained the main themes of the book – the importance of the sun, in particular – and explained how Toby and Ayla's relationship develops. I then went on to read the manuscript. It was a thrilling read, so I knew I also had to express this tension and suspense on the cover. 

As a starting point, I revisited the cover of Phoenix Burning. This cover design also focuses on three main elements – Toby, Ayla & the skull and crossbones. These were integrated in a clever way and the cover also fitted the YA genre. 

I then progressed to researching sun icons and experimenting with these, working out how best to show Toby and Ayla. I found that Ayla looking straight ahead was really effective, and contrasting this with the figure of Toby running also worked well. It was at this stage that I started adding more elements to the design – I chose to focus on the monks, who are a crucial and sinister element of the plot. 

My next step was to share my design with the rest of the Stripes team and with Bryony Pearce, the author. I wanted to make sure that the cover design fitted with their expectations, and that Bryony felt it was true to her story. I was also interested to find out which of the design elements caught their attention first. Some people were drawn to Toby running, others picked out Ayla's face first and others saw the monks’ faces within the sun's flames. From this, I made the decision to emphasise the sun itself, making it much clearer. This refining stage was key – once the sun was clearer, everything seemed to fall in to place. 

Once you read the book, the relevance of each of the elements becomes clear. However, without any knowledge of the story, they work together to convey the book’s energy and excitement. I hope you agree!

Bryony Pearce was born in 1976 and has two young children. She completed an English Literature degree at Corpus Christi College Cambridge in 1998 and was a winner of the SCBWI anthology 'Undiscovered Voices' in 2008.

Twitter: @BryonyPearce