I have a little list of authors whose work I would like to illustrate one day, editors I would like to work with, and so on. So when I was asked to illustrate To Spin a Darker Stair from Fablecroft Press, I almost fell off my chair, because I like working with the publisher (I did a few illustrations for Worlds Next Door in 2010), Catherynne M. Valente was one of the unattainable heights on my list (I mention her occasionally) and I realised, after reading Faith Mudge’s story, that the only reason she wasn’t on the list was that I hadn’t read her writing before.

The book is a collection of two short stories – fairytales retold from the witch’s perspective. Valente’s “A Delicate Architecture” is a bitter confection, as suits “Hansel and Gretel”, while Mudge’s “Oracle’s Tower” traces the rise and fall of a witch and her power over her charge.

Here are the cover roughs:

To Spin a Darker Stair - thumbnails

It was harder developing a design for a two-story book than it is for a collection. We wavered between B and C, and the publisher decided to go with C, but as a wraparound image. I’d still like to make a dress with painted panels as in G. From there, I drew a final pencil sketch, probably (I hope) emailed it for approval, inked it, scanned it and added colour in Photoshop Elements.

To Spin a Darker Stair - cover

I also drew two internal line illustrations for each story, but those will wait for another time. Or, buy the book!