The remote North coast of Scotland, 1841 – the Highland clearances are underway and feisty 12-year-old Janet is the only one standing between her village and the eviction writ.
She chooses to fight.
But that split-second decision may cost her everything: her home, her family – even her life.
Barbara Henderson’s first book, ‘Fir For Luck’, is published by Cranachan Books on 21st September 2016. We are delighted to reveal her brilliant cover here!
The cover from the writer’s perspective:
Newsflash: I’m delighted with the cover for Fir for Luck.
It was an interesting and exciting process for me who, as a debut novelist, had never done this before. The subject of the novel (the Highland Clearances) automatically evoke so many images: miserable people dragging their few sodden belongings behind them. Crowded boats, bound for an uncertain future in the New World, houses reduced to rubble. Fire, as the villagers’ houses were torched by heartless landlords. I was thinking silhouettes, drama, the land. Children in period costume, surely. Maybe a subtitle about the Highland Clearances?
I would make a very dodgy cover designer! After a chat with Anne, Cranachan’s design guru, I learned that the image needs to work as a thumbnail. Goodbye fiddly detail! We talked some more about the crucial thing we wanted readers to take away: the stakes (that meant including the fire or a burning building) and the main character, Janet.
Now, I wish I could take credit for the final idea of the cover, but that really wasn’t me. As soon as Anne sent me the mock-ups of the final image, reflecting the fire of a burning building in Janet’s eye, I knew we basically had it.
By using a close-up image of Janet’s face, the cover automatically delivers something else – a really modern feel. It’s a historical novel, set almost two hundred years ago – but the cover is easy for young readers to relate to. The point is, it could have been them. They, like Janet, may face split-second decisions. She is not remote.
All that was left was to find a suitable visual clue for children who might not instantly know what ‘fir’ is – the fir twig now features on the back cover beneath the blurb and also heads each chapter. The result is memorable, beautiful, but also haunting. The fact that it also features the endorsement of such a well-known and universally respected author of historical fiction, Elizabeth Wein, is just the cherry on the cake.
Life is good 🙂
The cover from the designer’s perspective (Anne Glennie):
There were many versions of the Fir for Luck cover. Initially, we played around with ideas, to see how they’d look. The very first cover was a modern-looking page of tiles, with each tile containing a separate image: an authentic photo of a longhouse; a close-up shot of flames, a real photo with women in period dress; an official document in old writing. But after meeting Barbara and discussing her ideas for the cover, she explained how key the landscape was to the story. In addition, after an afternoon spent ‘in the field’ looking at current fiction covers for children, we also knew that we wanted the cover to have a modern, movie-like feel – a book that would have ‘shelf-appeal’. Back to the drawing board!
Some other mock-ups were produced that used Barbara’s beautiful research snaps with golden sands, turquoise waters and of course, a ‘Janet’ was added for good measure. As the designer, I was quite happy with these – but sometimes, just like writing, you’re too close to your own work. Helen at Cranachan immediately saw an issue – the book now looked like a young adult beach read – totally wrong! It was actually Helen who had the idea about the flames in Janet’s eye – and we just knew we’d hit on the right ‘concept’ for the cover. We are all thrilled with the final result – and can’t wait to see it take its place on the shelves.
Fir for Luck is a novel about a young girl’s courage to make a difference. Set against the backdrop of real events during the 19th century Scottish Highland Clearances, it explores universal and timeless themes: displacement, school, family, friendship and the ever-changing seas of growing up. Published by Cranachan, the novel is out on 21st September 2016. You can find out more about Barbara Henderson at http://www.barbarahenderson.co.uk