My novel Lost on the Prairie has a cover.
It was created by a talented graphic designer named Jacqui Thomas who has worked for my publisher Heritage House since 2006. I had a delightful chat over the phone with Jacqui yesterday to find out how she developed the idea for the cover. She said she had started out by reading my book and then doing a number of sketches. The final cover is based on one of the first sketches she did.
Jacqui decided to include the grain and grain elevator since they are recognizable prairie symbols. Many scenes in the novel take place on trains so she chose to feature a train track running prominently through the center of the cover.
She wanted Peter, the main character, to appear small since he will have felt very small when he was alone and lost on the vast prairie.
Jacqui gave the cover a wood-cut sort of feel as a way to allude to the fact that the story takes place over a hundred years ago. Jacqui played around with different color palettes for the cover, but she and the other members of the production team at Heritage House felt the green hues conveyed just the right mood and tone for the book. When choosing the font Jacqui said she was looking for something with a human element to it, as well as a slightly modern feel, to appeal to the target audience.
Jacqui told me the storyline of Lost on the Prairie pulled her right in and she really enjoyed reading the book so that made her task of designing the cover easier. She thinks the novel will appeal to kids because it is not only an adventure story but also a survival story and explores a very real fear that many children have of getting lost. I was thrilled when she said she plans to buy copies for several young people she knows.
I thanked Jacqui for designing such a beautiful cover for my book. She was so glad I liked it. Some authors can be quite critical of the covers a book designer creates. Jacqui understands that an author’s precious manuscript is almost like a child to them and they aren’t always open to the vision others might have for representing their book. Jacqui’s work can be challenging when the author and the publisher don’t agree on what the cover should look like. Happily, that was not the case with my cover.
I asked Jacqui to point out some other books on the Heritage House website whose covers she had designed and there were quite a few. Two I found particularly clever and engaging were her covers for a book about the history of the Canadian Pacific Railroad by David Laurence Jones called Railway Nation and another for a humorous Survival Guide to British Columbia written by Ian Ferguson. I’ve provided links so you check out both of those creative covers.
After we had chatted about book covers I asked Jacqui to tell me a little bit about herself.
Jacqui has a degree in sociology and initially had careers in the hotel industry and as a support worker for people with special needs. At age thirty she decided to pursue what she loved most and pivoted to a career in the arts as a graphic designer.
Jacqui lives in Vancouver and a year and a half ago started a sketch club. She and her artistic friends go to different places in Vancouver and sketch the cityscape. During the pandemic, they have been sharing their work with one another via a private blog. Jacqui also paints watercolors.
Jacqui has a husband, a teenage son and a dog named Frieda Kahlo. Frieda is a rescue dog from the streets of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. Jacqui is also a cyclist. She told me that sometimes when she is stuck and can’t think of an idea for a design assignment she goes for a long bike ride and that provides her with the creative energy she needs for artistic inspiration.
I also found out that tea is her beverage of choice because she was enjoying a cup during our conversation. I asked her so many questions I was worried her tea would get cold while she was answering them.
Jacqui told me she will also be doing the layout and design work for my book.
How lucky I am to have Jacqui as part of the Heritage House team that is working behind the scenes to bring my novel Lost on the Prairie to bookshelves everywhere this coming spring.