Friday, 25 January 2013

Uncovered: A World Between Us

We’re literally uncovering the novel A World Between Us today, telling you what its editor thinks of its Branford Boase nomination as well as getting behind-the-scenes with art director, Jet Purdie too (read on, his pics are pretty special).

A World Between Us by Lydia Syson is a political romance set right in the heart of the Spanish Civil War. It’s a properly politically (and romantically) passionate novel. Its author, Lydia Syson, and editor, Sarah Odedina, have been longlisted for the Branford Boase award which honours outstanding debut children’s novels.

Sarah Odedina, who was also the publisher for Harry Potter and Holes, told us: “ It is remarkable in a first book to 'tick all the boxes' in a book. A fast paced plot, great dialogue, wonderful characters, strong relationships and an extraordinary sense of time and place. In this book Lydia has proven that she is a really exciting author and for me, as her editor, and as a reader, I am particularly looking forward to see what she does next. The Branford Boase Award is a hugely important award. As the long list shows there are really fine books being published at the moment, and to be amongst such great company is a wonderful encouragement to writers.”

A World Between Us is also a book whose cover really speaks to its story. Jet Purdie, Art Director at Hot Key Books, talks us through the passion and care that went into producing its cover. Wannabe illustrators and graphic designers, take notes.....’s Jet:

The initial plan for the A World Between Us cover was to go down the photographic route, until author Lydia Syson asked if we could explore Spanish civil war style poster illustration, in blue, red and yellow.
Photographic route rejected
I then learnt about Spanish war posters.....
(Examples of Spanish Civil War posters spotted at Imperial War Museum in Manchester by We Sat Down)
....... and hunted for an illustrator that could work in primary colours. I remembered seeing a Swedish website called where the illustrator had created a screen print in that same (slightly tricky to work with) set of colours.
Jan Bielicki's tricky colour screen print
I commissioned Jan Bielecki to illustrate the cover and we sketched up loose thumbnail sketches, the composition being heavily influenced by film poster design layout (my job for the past few years).
Thumbnail sketches
Once a layout was approved, Jan went ahead and created a final rough.
A pretty fine 'rough'
Once the final rough was approved, Jan created the final pencil illustration.
Final pencil illustration
Once the pencil was approved, the tricky task of colouring the illustration began. Getting this right was admittedly a little bit of a challenge. The end results however were very striking.

Next was the task of finding cool fonts to compliment the artwork. We opted for a distressed san serif. The cover was printed on uncoated paper which gave it a slightly aged feel.
Final cover

 Hope you like it : )”

We loved the cover. And your uncovering of its creative journey. Thank you, Jet!
You can read our review here and our interview with Lydia Syson here.
If you'd like to find out more about this book, Lydia's website has some really wonderful and inspiring historical material to explore.





  1. Clearly, I'm biased, but even I hadn't seen these working drawings before, and I found this post so interesting. 'Distressed san serif' - my new favourite font! I learned so much through the process of working with Jet and Jan on this cover, and was so grateful for the opportunity to be involved in the design. Their attention to detail at every stage was astonishing.

    And of course it has been a huge joy and privilege to have Sarah as my editor.

    1. These pictures are such a lovely treat, aren't they?! It's great to see the design process in such depth. And we much prefer the final cover to the photographic one.

  2. I love the cover of this book, and I really liked your review of A World Between Us and had been thinking of finding a book about the Spanish Civil War, so maybe this is what I have been looking for.

    1. Thanks, Alex. Yes, this is a book that I think would definitely appeal to you.

  3. I'm very glad and humbled the cover, and book itself, is getting such positive feedback!


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