Friday, 8 January 2010

Timeslip photography

photograph (c) Phil Richards, 2009

They say you can't judge a book by its cover but there's no doubt that a striking cover helps attract readers. When A Passenger in Time was being prepared for publication, the publishers asked me for some ideas about the cover design.

As the book is set partly around the Severn Valley Railway and partly on the historic Great Western Railway I thought the cover ought to feature an image of a steam locomotive in action. Perhaps it could combine the idea of time travel and railway travel. I wondered whether we could incorporate the image of an old railway station clock, or play around with combinations of colour and black and white to suggest the time shift between 2005 and 1955. Could the famous 'coffee and cream' colours (the livery of the Great Western Railway) be used or would this create a bit of a dull impression for modern young readers? And what about the GWR guard's whistle that Jessica finds in the story? Could this be incorporated somehow?
photographs (c) Phil Richards, 2009
One thing worried me though. Although I'm no railway buff myself - and many people wouldn't know the difference between a 1950s GWR train and, say, an LNER one - I'm sure there are plenty of enthusiasts who would, so it would be good to aim for as much accuracy as possible.

This was quite a complicated brief but the cover designer Jacqueline Abromeit rose to the occasion. Jacqueline tried to take all my ideas into account but was struggling to find a picture of an authentic GWR locomotive on which to base her design. This is where my friend Phil Richards comes in....

Phil is a gifted photographer based in Bewdley - the setting for the book and the home of the Severn Valley Railway. Phil kindly agreed to a special on-location photo-shoot at Bewdley station, and Jacqueline skilfully incorporated some of these images into the design.

If you look closely at the front and back cover, you'll see the locomotive, the railway clock and the whistle all carefully blended in. Jacqueline's dazzling finished design would not have been possible without Phil's evocative original photographs, more of which we'll be seeing on this blog in the future.
cover design Jacqueline Abromeit, 2009

1 comment:

  1. I'm rather fond of the old coffee and cream look. Old fashioned stations really are a comfort zone. I recently discovered the small station in Birmingham, tucked just behind the Bull Ring (can't remember the name) - it was like going back in time. Paignton station is recommended too. Choo-chho!


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Tony Gillam is Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Wolverhampton, a freelance writer, trainer and musician. He is the author of 'Reflections on Community Psychiatric Nursing' (2002) and 'Creativity, Wellbeing and Mental Health Practice' (2018).