One of my favourite reads of 2016, this strikingly wonderful novel has taken bookshops by storm with its beautiful portrayal of fatherhood coupled with hilarious narration. Brimming with wit and painting a touching yet realistic portrait of autism, you’ll find it difficult not to fall in love with Ben Jewell, his son Jonah and Shtum.
I’ve been lucky enough to join the Shtum blog tour and grabbed a few words from the author about the process behind creating Shtum’s beautiful cover. Here is what Jem had to say…
Jem Lester on the Making of a Book Cover
I attached a drawing to the front of my manuscript half way through writing it. It was a line drawing of a curly-haired boy with a single digit to his lips – it seemed to say ‘quiet,’ ‘shtum,’ to me. That remained the only image I could imagine featuring on the front cover of Shtum if, by some miracle, it found a publisher.
When Jemima Forrester, at Orion, bought it, the idea that a designer would read it and produce his own visual interpretation, really fascinated me. When the first version of the cover was emailed to me, I was stunned.
Leo Nicholls, the designer, had produced something that interpreted the story perfectly.
The central image of a long-haired boy in shorts was instantly identifiable to me as Jonah, Shtum’s central character. He is filled with a burst of multi-colour, a cascade of spectra that, to me, represents two things brilliantly: The huge autistic spectrum and, more directly, the crystal that is a symbolic part of the book. Jonah loves to hold the crystal up to the light and loves the different colours that are produced through its prism. White light, like Jonah, is multi-faceted and full of unseen beauty.
Lying by the boy’s feet is a number of beautiful feathers. Again, Leo Nicholls has identified something of great significance. Feathers are one of Jonah’s favourite things, he loves to pull them apart and watch the soft down drift away on wind. You can find him by following a trail of feathers.
I think it is an outstanding cover, beautiful in its simplicity and very impactful. The typeface for both ‘Shtum’ and ‘Jem Lester’ adds to the effect wonderfully. It is basic, innocent and suggests naivety. All these themes have been continued and expanded on in the finished hardback.
Unusually, the cover of Shtum has not changed since that first attempt. A brilliant cover by Leo Nicholls.
Thank you so much to Jem for taking the time to give us some insight into this beautiful cover design! Don’t forget to check out my review here and the rest of the Shtum blog tour at the blogs below or follow #SHTUM on Twitter.