The story of the cover design

Posted by on Jul 23, 2013 in Blog, Full Blog | 0 comments

This is, in reality, the story of Sengamo.  Over the last two years I have spent hours looking at the artwork on covers of books in bookshops.

Very few inspired me. I came up with various designs of my own, all of which were gracefully rejected by my editor, Lucy Beevor.

Then, last January I walked into an apartment at the Waterfront in Cape Town and there on the wall was the picture of an African soldier who I immediately christened Sengamo.

We had only two days to find the artist, but all the galleries we visited were unable to help and we left the country not knowing who painted the picture.

Two months before the book was due to be printed we had still not settled on a design for the cover and the publishers were becoming agitated. As a last resort, I showed them the picture of the African on my digital camera. They were ecstatic. But there were copyright issues. We could not use the painting without permission. In desperation, I sent an email with the picture attached to every major gallery in South Africa. No one knew who the artist was. Then we came up with the idea to try and trace the owners of the apartment. Jackpot! An agency replied that they knew of the apartment and would look at the painting. The following day they emailed me with the artist’s name and her gallery. I immediately sent off an email to Neeltje Luyendyk, with a synopsis of the book, asking for her permission to use the painting. She responded the following day, saying she would be delighted and all she wanted was a signed copy of the novel. Hers was the first copy we posted overseas.

Below is her response to the book.

Hello Michael,
I have read your book and it is great, quite upsetting at times but that is the reality of that time. But a beautiful read nonetheless. You are right when I look at the cover – HE IS Sengamo; how clever of you to see that – I am proud to have done him justice.
Stay well and I hope you sell a lot of books.
Kind regards, Nel 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>