flayed and fly-eyed

Above, vignette for Maze of Blood.

The last of the full-page images for Marly Youmans’ new novel, Maze of Blood, has been completed. Here it is, followed by the full set of images and the cover. So richly rewarding is Marly’s text, that I could have made fifty illustrations from it, but six must suffice. It is not a text that requires images, but it has been a wonderful experience to explore the novel, and to produce decorations for it. Maze of Blood is due out in September this year.

The front cover

11 thoughts on “flayed and fly-eyed

  1. Still playing catch-up on all the entries I missed…

    Clives to-do list:

    Produce another set of instantly iconic book images – Check!

    (one down, only ninety nine other things still to go 🙂 )

  2. Dear Clive and Marly, As you know I think of Marly as creating modern-day classics, and your partnership through the previous books (all of which I own and cherish) has made for a collection that glows when one stands in the vicinity of that bookshelf in my library. All of the books sit easily among the classic book illustrations from the past that we all admire. I really think you have reached a new realm with this group! The images ARE classic. Pure responses that reach so deeply into Marly’s words but with such simplicity (despite the complexity of the images). Mythic, scary, hypnotic, psychological, whimsical, challenging. Bravo Clive and as always Brava dear Marly for inspiring Clive, and me, and your readers who cherish your masterly work.

  3. Bravo, Clive! You are the maestro, what an ending! Although I believe you have the vignettes to complete yet. I love the way you have flayed back the skin, in harmony I presume, with subtle meanings in the novel. It’s interesting that you have read it , not in the ordinary way as we the readers will, but by getting into it’s soul. It appears to be a most intimate partnership, and extremely satisfying for Marly to know that her offspring is so well understood and interpreted.xxL

    • Thank you, Liz. It means a lot to me that you understand at such a deep level what it is I try to do when working with Marly to produce a book.

      I’m often reading e-manuscripts at times when she’s still working on them, and I think it does have the effect of making the entire experience more visceral and analytical for me, because I’m witness to the processes of creativity, rather than just coming in at the tail-end when everything has been decided. It’s not that I play any part in the refining… I don’t offer observations at those stages… but early access to a manuscript undoubtedly helps me understand it at a deeper level.

      Marly always leaves me be, so that I can process the material in my own way, though she’s there when I need clarification. She doesn’t necessarily see what I’m doing, unless I post publicly about it. It’s an incredibly trusting relationship.

      Although the six drawings for Maze of Blood codify aspects of the novel, I didn’t make them in the knowledge of which would go where regarding the six divisions. When completed, I passed them to Marly for her to decide. There were any number of variations of placement that could have worked, and I enjoyed watching her come to her conclusions.

      This is the second book we have done together at Mercer University Press, though we worked in the same way on Thaliad for Phoenica Publishing, and on The Foliate Head for Stanza Poetry. It helps that Marly chooses to work with small publishing houses, and with editors who allow her to bring me to the projects. In the business of producing commercial editions, by paying so much attention to the appearance of the books and having decorations throughout, we bring something of the ethos of the ‘private press’ to the business of making commercial editions. But the reality is that small publishing houses never have the budgets to pay for the page images we like to use, and so I’m reliant on being able to sell the drawings/collages at exhibitions to get some revenue from them. Unlike in the old days, when illustrations were bundled up and physically delivered to the publishers, in this digital age they never leave my studio. They are photographed and dispatched as Tifs to the designers, via file-sharing services.

      Interestingly, I don’t think I’ve made any books for Marly that haven’t impacted and brought changes to my easel work. Because each book is a creative encounter/collaboration with a writer I deeply admire, what I discover along the way invariably continues into my practice as a painter.

      I only produced three vignettes, one of which is at the top of this post, though designer Mary-Frances Glover Burt may well extrapolate elements from the six larger drawings to make a few more.

      • It’s certainly the case that it has never felt effortful. Of course I always come late to the process, when the inspiration is all there, just waiting for me to hoover it up and turn it into imagery. All I do is turn up and feast on the glorious Marly-banquet provided! (-;

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