This is a picture of the inspiration for Murphy’s pub in ASHES ON THE TONGUE. Glad to say it’s still going strong today. “Silence permeates the house, broken only by the crackling of the Sunday newspaper in the parlour and the small sounds of Ruby going about her chores. She black-leads the stove, rakes the ashes and sweeps the hearth before getting the fire started. While the kitchen heats up, she lays a cast iron frying pan on the electric cooker in the scullery, a knob of lard set to melt. Victor expects his fry-up and soda bread to be on the table before noon to set him up for his day’s drinking in Murphy’s pub at the bottom of the street. “
Just got my hands on a hardback version of Ashes on the Tongue, a beta option being rolled out by Amazon. Delighted with the quality. Unfortunately, I can’t keep it as it’s on the way to a reader in Northern Ireland after I’ve signed it.
When I first photographed fifteen-year-old Devonn three years ago, I hadn’t even an inkling that I would start a secondary career as a self-publishing author. Having cut my literary teeth on my first novel, Circles of Confusion, I embarked on the much longer, more complicated Ashes on the Tongue which tells the story of Fen, a young girl in Northern Ireland in the 1950s, just before The Troubles really took hold. I always saw Devonn as Fen and a quick look through my archives revealed the first picture on the left which I thought was perfect. The strip below shows the progression from the original photograph to the processed version to the cover design and, finally, to the first advertisement after the book was published. The font used for the title is called Requiem and I liked it so much, I have used it for all my covers. As the sequel to Ashes – Then Sings My Soul – is well under way, it looks like I’ll soon be having another trawl through the archives.
With a publication date of 1st June firmly established, I really need to settle my mind on a cover. This is the latest (not the last) version and has a (sort of) blurb. Although I love the picture of the old farmhouse, I had quite a bit of feedback saying it wouldn’t have any impact at thumbnail size. One person said she’d love to read the book but would have passed over the thumbnail. So I’ve reintroduced Devonn, who is so like Fen in my mind’s eye.
A few initial ideas for the cover of Ashes on the Tongue. I lean towards the centre one, followed by the far right, although I grieve for the bits of the painting I had to chop off. The orange text is a big mistake! That will definitely go. The font is Optima which was designed in the 1950s, the era the book is set in.
I’m blown away today by the arrival of this image to be used on the cover of Ashes on the Tongue, due for publication around Easter time this year. It is an original painting by Northern Irish artist, George A Gourley, showing a derelict house on the Tirkane Road, Maghera which is near Londonderry. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to use it yet – there are lots of ideas buzzing round in my head. Many thanks to George Gourley for giving me permission to use his painting.
Today I’ve been working with the remove background tool in Photoshop. I want to use this photograph of Devonn on the front cover of Ashes on the Tongue, due for publication around Easter time. I was having great difficulty in separating her hair from the black background and was on the verge of giving up when I attended a Zoom lecture last night at Nottingham & Notts Photographic Society where John Bermingham drew my attention to this neat little tool. This is a quick and dirty practice run on a very low res photograph but it has encouraged me enormously. That’s the trouble with Photoshop, it’s so bloody enormous that the answer to a problem can be right under your nose and you don’t know it. Move the slider to see the results.
This original painting, Tirkane Road, Maghera, is another image I am using for the Ashes on the Tongue cover and the reason why I was so anxious to separate Devonn’s hair from the background. It’s by George A Gourley, an Irish artist, who has given me permission to use it. I am delighted because it has just the right feel for the era I am writing about.