Fight Like a Girl: Q&A with Cover Artist Lauren Tamaki

Looking for a mid-week pick-me-up? Look no further: we have a new Q&A with artist Lauren Tamaki. She’s the genius behind the striking cover for Sheena Kamal‘s upcoming YA debut, Fight Like a Girl. Read on to see just how many sketches Lauren went through before she landed on this final image.

Did you read Fight Like a Girl before starting on the cover? If so, what about it stuck out to you the most?

I read the whole thing, front to back! I was struck by the ferocity of the main character: she’s angry, she swears, she fully realized. Her Trinidadian-Canadian identity is front and center and although we come from different backgrounds, I could relate to feeling of being in-between worlds and not knowing your place. The author explored the vagaries of being a 16 year old girl with gusto and the emotion was further heightened by the crazy fight sequences!

What emotions did you want to capture on the cover?

When John Martz, my wonderful art director, first briefed me on the project, we talked about dynamic image of a girl throwing a punch or a kick. The book is woven around the main character’s love for Muay Thai. I tried a few versions of that, and while they were active, sweaty and impactful, none of them had the confrontational nature that the character possessed. I tried a couple drawings that had direct eye contact but I didn’t want to create an explicit portrait of her face (someone told me a long time ago not to do that on book covers). I came to a nice solution that showcased the character’s searing stare and physicality with a bit of vulnerability tossed in.

How did you choose the colour scheme?

I knew the colour had to be hot and intense. The story is about love and violence, so I had no choice! I ended up using black ink washes coloured digitally (so it was still transparent in areas). I put a purple bruise colour under the red so it felt just a bit… achey.

Were you given any guidance from the author/editor?

The original vision for the cover was of a simple figure in an expressive illustrated style. I watched a ton of Muay Thai on YouTube to get an idea of what I was dealing with. This particular martial art is very calculated for all the fury it brings. We ended up gravitating away from that original thought, but drawing all those figures was extremely helpful.

How many drafts/designs did you go through before it was “finished”?

So so many…. I sent through 8 pencil sketches for the first review, mostly of the expressive figure in action. We toyed with a couple directions for a while but went with a more centralized view of a girl staring down the viewer while ‘on the ropes’. Once we decided on that path, I tried about 9 colour/tone tests, but nothing seemed right. I stripped it back to simple black line work and a flood of colour, which was the right treatment because it was bold and direct.

As per usual, I nit-picked right up to the delivery date: I noticed I hadn’t addressed the hand wrapping *exactly* as it should be so I went back in and fixed that. Research is so important!

Have you worked on other book covers before or do you have any coming up?

I’ve done a handful of book covers and this is definitely one of my favourites! My first book cover was with Penguin UK (Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe) and I had a great experience working with them: they let me go wild with the illustration and design of the entire wrap. I’m working on a book right now that will require a cover at some point… I think it’ll probably be the last thing I tackle!

How is designing a cover different from other illustration projects you’ve worked on?

I’ve heard designers and illustrators bemoan how book covers are difficult because of the variety of opinions required to pass muster. I’ve had wildly different experiences – mostly positive. The most joyous work occurs when you have trust and rapport with your AD. The worst experiences are when there are too many cooks in the kitchen, there is a lack of clarity and no respect for your time. Any illustration work (editorial, advertising, etc) can fall on either side.

What are some recent book covers you admire?

Designer Na Kim creates the most stunning book covers. The way she mixes illustration, photography, type… so wonderful! Her covers have incredible variety but are all blessed with her magic touch. Her image for Girl by Edna O’ Brian (featuring a gorgeous drawing by Chioma Ebinama) stopped me in my tracks.


Fight Like a Girl will be released on March 10, 2020. In the meantime, make sure you’re following Lauren and author Sheena Kamal on social media!

SHEENA KAMAL: website | instagram
LAUREN TAMAKI: website | instagram 

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: The Beauty of the Moment Cover Reveal

New year, new us! Or, at least, a new look for Tanaz Bhathena‘s sweet contemporary YA, The Beauty of the Moment. Check out the adorable cover below plus TWO Q&As: one with Tanaz and one with the cover artist/designer, Emma Dolan!

Q&A with Tanaz Bhathena

How was the process for this paperback cover different than it was for the hardcover cover?

The thought process was different. The hardcover focuses on Susan’s dreams of being an artist and the illustrations are right out of her sketchbook. The paperback focuses on both Susan and Malcolm and their romance. Both embody different aspects of the book that I love.

What do you think of the new cover?

I get hit by a serious case of nostalgia whenever I see this cover; it takes me back to my own high school days. The colour palette reminds me of a Mississauga sunset and both Susan and Malcolm appear exactly the way I imagined them!

What is your favourite scene in The Beauty of the Moment?

Susan and Malcolm’s scene at Square One Shopping Centre (which is an homage to my BFFs) and Malcolm’s scene with his uncle Mancher, which is humorous and full of good advice. 

What kind of feedback have you received about The Beauty of the Moment since it came out?

My favourite feedback for this book comes from teen readers because it was specifically written with them in mind. The best moment was during a teen girl book club (The Room Of Your Own in Toronto), when a reader said that Susan’s interactions with her mom helped her understand her own mother better. 

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the sequel to Hunted by the Sky, my fantasy novel set in a medieval India-inspired world. The first book releases on June 23 2020, the sequel sometime in 2021. 

What are your most anticipated releases of 2020? 

The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes by Suzanne Collins, Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith,This Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi, and Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust.

What was your favourite read of 2019?

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay. 


Q&A with Emma Dolan

Did you read The Beauty of the Moment before starting on the cover?

I unfortunately wasn’t able to read it before starting the cover. As book designers we try to read the books as often as we can, but this was a tight turnaround so I relied on discussions with the editors, Lynne and Peter, to fill me in!

Were you given any guidance from the author/editor?

Yes, absolutely! My first step was to sit down with the editor to discuss the direction they wanted to take the cover. This book already had a beautifully illustrated hardcover, so it was important to get a sense of everyone’s goals for the new design, what we wanted to do differently, and why.

How did you choose the cover direction? What emotions/what kind of atmosphere were you trying to capture?

During my discussions with the editor, we narrowed down a loose concept and look for the illustration. Everyone felt it was very important to have the central character, Susan, on the cover, as well as to convey that it’s a love story. It can be tricky to depict characters on a cover that only exist in writing. The descriptions might be there on the page, but how that translates in the readers’ imaginations can vary significantly. Luckily, Tanaz was very helpful! She provided detailed descriptions of both characters, as well as the dynamic between them. Lastly, the book is set in Mississauga, and I wanted to give a little nod to that in some way. I based the colour palette on the beautiful sunsets we have here in Toronto and the GTA.

How did you create the cover?

I used a combination of Illustrator and Photoshop to create the illustration, and the final design was laid out in InDesign.

How many drafts/designs did you go through before it was “finished”?

This cover was somewhat unusual in that, apart from a few minimal colour and font revisions, the final cover is very close to the first draft I sent to editorial.

What are some other book covers you’ve worked on? Do you have any coming up?

I’m fairly new to PRHC, so all the covers I’ve worked on have yet to be released – or even printed! I believe the first book I will hold in my hands is a poetry collection by Nancy Lee. It’s always very exciting to finally get to see the finished book!

If you missed picking up The Beauty of the Moment when it came out in hardcover, you can grab the adorable new paperback when it comes out on June 23, 2020!

Make sure to follow Tanaz and Emma on social media as well.

TANAZ BHATHENA: website | instagram
EMMA DOLAN: website | instagram | twitter

Cover Reveal: What Are You Doing, Benny?

Tundra is very excited to be publishing What Are You Doing, Benny? in the spring! Written by the award-winning Cary Fagan with endearing illustrations from the New York Times bestselling Kady MacDonald Denton, this is the book you’ll need to gift to all of your siblings – especially the annoying ones.

What Are You Doing, Benny?
Written by Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
Hardcover | $17.99 US | $21.99 CAN
April 2, 2019
ISBN 9781770498570

From New York Times-bestselling illustrator Kady MacDonald Denton and award-winning author Cary Fagan comes a charming sibling story that has the makings of a contemporary classic.

Benny’s little brother is really good at a lot of things — making potions and paper airplanes, building forts, putting on puppet shows, even petting the neighbor’s cat (he has a special way of scratching her just behind the ears). But whenever he tries to join in Benny’s activities, all Benny ever says is “No.” Maybe his little brother can watch him do cool stuff, if he’s lucky. What is a little fox to do, except give Benny a taste of his own medicine?

Totally familiar yet fresh and original, tenderly told and consistently funny, this story perfectly captures the joys (and annoyances!) of sibling relationships.

Cover Reveal: Great Job, Dad! and Great Job, Mom!

Could this be the first cover reveal on our blog? Why, we think it is!

Now, some of you lucky ones might have already seen the F&G cover at ALA Annual in New Orleans this past June, but here they are again – in all their glory with the characters from the books:

Sept 12 Cover Reveal

ABOUT THE BOOKS
Being a dad or mom is eleven jobs in one!

This unique picture book for very young readers celebrates the many jobs being a parent encompasses: A receptionist scheduling important meetings (for play dates), an architect designing buildings (or pillow forts), a curator of modern art (or finger paintings) . . . When Dad or Mom return from their day jobs, they never knows which job will be waiting for them at home, but they know it’ll be fun!

Each rhyming spread features intimate, familiar, comforting and humorous depictions of family life through a wholly original – and amazing! – needle-felted lens.

Available March 26, 2019 in stores and online.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR-ILLUSTRATOR
Holman Wang is a lawyer who also finds time to make children’s books. He and his brother, Jack, are the twin powers behind the board book series Cozy Classics and Star Wars Epic Yarns, which abridge literary and cinematic classics into just twelve words and twelve needle-felted images. Their unique artwork has been exhibited around the world, including at The Original Art exhibition in New York, the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, and the National Museum of Play. Holman lives with his wife and kids in Vancouver, Canada, and is a board member of the Vancouver Writers Festival.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES
Here are some photos from the making of the book, courtesy of Holman Wang.

CHAUFFEUR set up 1

JUDGE set up 1

ACTOR set up 5

DJ set up 1