Iain Banks needs no introduction to most people, his novel The Wasp Factory shot him to literary stardom in 1984 and he continued to be one of the most prolific writers of both mainstream fictions and also science-fiction (under Iain M. Banks) until his untimely death in 2013.
In May 2012, our good friend and fabulous client Duncan Spilling at Little, Brown UK, asked us to look at his latest paperback, Stonemouth, with a view to pitch for his entire backlist. We almost but his hand off, we were so excited, especially as we’d just concluded the first batch of Alexander McCall Smith books that you can find in this section too.
The existing Iain Banks look was designed by the eminent UK cover designer, Jamie Keenan. We were most certainly not worthy, but did our best to build on their success.
Again, we had to be conscious of his existing look and how it sat in the market. Our hope was to keep the author’s stature but add much more reality, a grit and capture a moment of jeopardy in the cover.
Stonemouth is an excellent book, the story of Stewart Gilmour who returns home to Stonemouth, the place where he grew up and ran away from when he got mixed up with the local crime family, the Murstons, oh and their daughter too. It’s a story of adolescence, love, family ties and vengeance among myriad other things.
The Murstons’ preferred method of intimidation, and some would say execution, was to hang people they don’t like from the suspension bridge that connects Stonemouth to the rest of Scotland (it’s a fictional town in Fife). The view down to the water, as if you were one of the Murstons’ targets, was the perfect metaphor for the tension in the book. We spent an age sourcing the right photographs to come together for this scene, almost commissioned an intrepid photographer we know to hang from the Forth Road bridge.
A year, 15 books and 160-odd visuals later, we arrived at a complete backlist for Iain Banks. And immensely proud we are too.
Tragically, Iain Banks was diagnosed with cancer whilst writing The Quarry (ironically about a terminally ill man with cancer, which Iain found darkly funny as was his way) but was kind enough to sign a first edition for us ‘To Mark, with thanks, Iain’ on 14th May, just two weeks before he died.