All the illustrations for the front covers of my levels are by the wonderful and talented Hannah Pontin.
I discuss with Hannah which animal might best represent the theme of each book. She then interprets this in her own unique and wonderful style.
What, then, do the illustrations represent?
A Bridge Of Straw
The first book the main protagonist, Mack, is put into an impossible situation by two people from his past that resurface. Hannah and I felt that a fox best represented conniving and deceit.
I can picture the moment when I open the email containing Hanna’s pictures. I burst into tears, partly at the brilliance of the illustration, but also how perfectly she captured the essence of unknown forces which manipulate us.
Manners From Heaven
Novels are about change. The forces that make us change; who we were before; who we are at the end.
In Manners From Heaven, one person tries to force another to change, and in doing so is forced into their own period of reflection and a form of redemption.
There was only ever going to be one animal for the front cover of a novel questioning how people change, and that is a leopard.
I think Hannah gave this leopard a certain dignity. Is it able to change its spots, or does it just not want to?
The Vanishing Point
The theory of the sixth mass extinction states that there have been five mass extinctions in the history of the planet.
A mass extinction is defined as being at least 75% of all species on the planet disappearing. The first was some 444 million years ago, and the most well known was the dinosaurs. The worst event, known as the Great Dying”, was 252 million years ago, and the planet took at least 4 million years to recover.
Rather puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?!
So many species are being lost from the Earth at the moment that scientists believe we are in the early stages of this next mass extinction.
And the difference between this mass extinction and all the others? This one we have brought on ourselves.
In searching for a suitable animal metaphor for the cover illustration, we considered a lemming, famed, of course, for jumping off cliffs in their hordes. Only two problems with this. Firstly, lemmings don’t actually jump off cliffs. And secondly, not many people know what a lemming looks like!
So instead Hannah came up with the idea of the moth, attracted to the flame.