Picador Editor Kris Doyle and designer Stuart Wilson share the process behind creating the cover of Gerard Woodward’s new book, The Paper Lovers, which publishes in hardback and ebook on 31st May 2018.

From the cover designer:

The Paper Lovers is a book about love and betrayal, and what becomes of us after our greatest certainties have been shattered. One of the book's most important characters is Polly, who makes exquisite handcrafted papers and runs a successful shop selling her beautiful paper products.

Within Polly's paper-making process is the tearing up and recycling of other paper colours and textures. Working from this what I wanted to achieve for the cover is a selection of papers newly made and drying in the racks waiting for their new life.

I realised quite early on that to achieve an organic and realistic look I would have to construct the scene for the paper in a format suitable for the cover. I also realised that the typography would have sit onto the paper as well to give the feel of being an integral part of the paper-making process.

Gerard Woodward The Paper Lovers cover design 1

Working together a framework and a colour range of hand-made papers it meant that I could focus of the cadence of the lines of paper down the cover and let them all sit horizontally as they would in a paper rack. The result meant I could photograph the framework and work together a sympathetic cover to the paper-making process.

Gerard Woodward The Paper Lovers cover design 2

From the editor:

Unsurprisingly, given the title, paper plays a significant role in Gerard Woodward's new novel. The book tells the story of a married couple, Arnold and Polly, and what happens after Arnold begins having an affair with Vera, a religious woman and one of his wife's friends. Alongside the drama of this romantic entanglement, the characters are heavily involved with paper.

Arnold is a man of letters; he teaches at the local University and has published one -- though only one -- collection of poetry. Polly runs her own successful business, a shop called Papyrus, in which she sells beautiful artisan paper products which she makes herself in a workshop behind the store. Even though both characters share a sense that the age of paper is dead, they care deeply about what paper represents, how it is made, what is printed upon it, and what that might say, as does another important character in the novel, a young poet called Martin Guerre. Together Polly and Arnold run a publishing company, the Papyrus Press, which has published a small number of poetry pamphlets: Arnold chooses which poets to publish and Polly makes the paper upon which they're printed. Martin Guerre's book, if it is to be published, will be called The Paper Lovers...

Gerard Woodward The Paper Lovers cover design 3

This is a novel about love and obsession, faith and betrayal, poetry and paper. There were many ways to imagine a jacket design, but the idea of focusing on the paper seemed the best to us, not just because of the significance it plays in the ways outlined already but also because of the devastating act that forms the novel's conclusion (you'll have to read it to find out what that is!). Stuart Wilson came up with several brilliant interpretations of the design brief, and went on to hand-make an extraordinary model, which he then photographed to produce the final design. What Stuart created seems to me an honest representation of the book's themes and concerns; it seems to offer evidence of the human hand's potential to create works of art, or to rip and tear and destroy -- something done equally easily to our hearts as to a sheet of paper -- and it has a fragile, luminous beauty, with hints of a dark mystery. I think it's the perfect jacket design for a wonderful novel.

Gerard Woodward The Paper Lovers cover design 4

The Paper Lovers is published in hardback and ebook on 31st May 2018.