Cover Up -- by Susan Price

 

 Nightcomers by Susan Price
 
I've self-published three collections of  ghost stories-- or, at least, 'stories of the uncanny.' Not all of them are, strictly, ghost stories. But they all contain some element of the supernatural or eerie.
 
I think these stories contain some of my best writing, but I'd become unhappy with their covers. I  felt they needed freshening up.   
 
 Nightcomers, originally published by Hodder, was perhaps the most difficult. One of the stories is based on a legend about ghostly horsemen who, on Midsummer Night, ride down from their grave-mound to water their horses at the river, before returning to sleep under the mound. 
 
Tradition demands that the owner of the land they ride across should make sure there is a farrier waiting, to replace the ghostly horses' shoes with new ones made of silver. The original cover referenced that story.
 
 
What to put in its place?

Nightcomers?  Night? -- The moon? A blood moon? My first design was just that: a red moon and the title, almost filling the cover.

I asked my brother, Andrew, who's a much better artist than I am, to give it the once-over. "That is just crying out for --" he said and, instead of finishing his sentence, took up the mouse and sketched in the eerie character silhouetted against the moon. I don't know who or what that is -- Angel of Death? Vampire? Ghost? Ghoul? Whatever it is, it is certainly a Nightcomer

Hauntings by Susan Price
 

 Hauntings was also originally published by Hodder. All its previous covers, as far as I can remember, have shown a scene from one of its stories 'Davy.' A girl, the daughter of a farmer, innocently yearns after Davy, the young shepherd-boy who works for her father. But Davy is caught in a winter storm and dies of exposure.

Years later, as a grown woman, married and a mother, she looks back on her first love, reflecting that she now sees her hero as little more than a child and smiling as she acknowledges that, while alive, he probably never noticed her as anything more than his employer's chubby little girl.

Then she hears a rumour current among her farm-servants. The ghost of a boy, they say, is often seen, on winter nights, standing in the farm-yard and staring at the lit windows of the house. The new cover shows the same scene, but in a simpler way than before, getting closer to the figure, the stone wall and the window.

Again, my brother's help was invaluable. He advised me to ditch the 'old fashioned' font I'd chosen, as being too difficult to read. (I loved the font I'd chosen but, after consideration, decided he was right and replaced it on all three books.) Andrew also helped me balance the graphic layers, reducing opacity to make the ghost transparent, the lamplight glow, and the walls fade away into darkness.We played about with increasing and decreasing the size of the figure and window. We made the scene darker and lighter, moved the text about, until we were happy.
 
Finally, Overheard In A Graveyard, the only one of the three books which has only ever been self-published -- although the title-story was originally published in one of my other collections, and some of the others have been previously published in magazines and anthologies. Its original cover, as you can see, featured an extravagant font and the graveyard the overhearing was done in, from a photo I took myself and turned into black and white.
 
 
The new cover has a background made from my own photographs of stone paving slabs. These photos were then covered with layers of different colours, greens, greys,* and blues, with the opacities juggled, to let different strengths of the colours show through.

*That Oxford comma is there simply to annoy Treeza Coffey.
 
My brother supplied the wreathed skull, from his own photos -- Photographed in a Graveyard. The lichen comes from my own photos.


Overheard In A Graveyard by Susan Price

The finished cover isn't what I set out to achieve-- I originally wanted to make the cover look like a gravestone--  but I'm pleased with it nevertheless. I might even prefer it. I haven't quite decided yet.
 
But isn't it always the case, with writing, painting or any other art, that you rarely end up with exactly what you set out to make? The finished article may fall far short of what you wanted to create, it may be better, or it may simply be other. The thing you create in a hurry, to order, can often turn out to be better, in many ways, than the thing you laboured over... Has anybody else found this?
 


Nightcomers…

The beautiful and the uncanny…

A beautiful Englishman drives his Italian mistress to suicide – but she pursues him even after death…

A young blacksmith spends Midsummer’s Night near an ancient mound, to 'shoe with silver the horses of those who come by’…

In an echoing, out-of-hours mall, a lonely cleaner falls in love with a beautiful, hungry stranger…

A family gather at a dying girl's bedside and something comes knocking at the window…

A man walks home, on a freezing night, along lanes haunted by the Death-Dog…

A young actor is offered a lift in a car silver sports car with the number, ‘130.’

A holiday cottage holds memories of despair…

And a ghost features in a gentle Christmas story.

Eight eerie, haunting stories of the supernatural from an expert story-teller and award-winning writer.

 

Hauntings

Stories written to haunt, ‘to be poignant and evocative, persistently and disturbingly present.’

A ghostly boy stands in a dark farmyard, staring at the lit windows of the farmhouse kitchen.

An old man, living alone in a farmhouse surrounded by modern estates, sees spirits dancing on an ancient hillside.

A bullied schoolgirl finds a protector — at a price.

A writer listens to the telling of a dream — and can't sleep easily after.

A poltergeist joins a couple in their home…

An elderly couple are woken nightly by the return of their young neighbour — who was murdered. Yet still she comes home late…

An ancient wood emerges from the lamposts and walls of a city…

And a spiritual medium is exposed as a trickster.

  


Overheard In A Graveyard

Voices whisper in a graveyard…

'Who weeps on my grave, who keeps me from sleep? - Is it you who unearths me to this cold rain, this dark, this wind and all its grief?'

A lost sister speaks in a dream...

'She said,“I'm on Mow Top. But you won't find me now. Don't look. Forget me.”

A supermarket is haunted by a murdered baby… Footsteps climb the stairs of a darknened cottage... A voice whispers in a museum...

Nine short, haunting stories of the supernatural, of loss and longing, of those who walk between this world and the next...

Comments

Griselda Heppel said…
MwahahahahahA you’ve got me shivering. The new covers are terrific, especially the Overheard in a Graveyard one. Wonderful to have such a useful brother with talents to complement yours! Excellent halloween reading.
Reb MacRath said…
Love the new direction, Susan!
If you haven't read Susan Price's ghost stories yet, you are in for a (spooky) treat! Loving the new spooky covers :-)
I love the new Nightcomers cover particularly.

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