It is always a pleasure to showcase a talented artist. It is especially so, when is Tara Bush. We are delighted to reveal Tara's new cover art for Cat Hellisen's forthcoming novel, Cast Long Shadows. The book will be released 31 May 2022 and launched at Cymera 2022, in Edinburgh and online.
In order to provide directions to an artist, I listen to the author's insight about their story.
Cat's words were a great starting point:
I've always been drawn to folk song and fairy tale retellings, partly because I like to shift things around within the structural framework to see how much I can break before the whole story collapses completely, and partly because I think folk tales are what happens when the mythology of humanity is simmered away until all that is left are our base symbols: the cut-out heart, the reflection, the poisoned apple.
When I started writing Cast Long Shadows I was digging into the overused trope of the Evil Stepmother, and what it might really have meant to be the witch in Snow White: a replacement bride, the shadow of the dead and perfect wife, the mother of a step-daughter she'd never planned for. The more I thought about her, the more I imagined her to be a girl out of her depth, alone and afraid in a court full of enemies. And what if she was never a witch? What if other forces were at work to bring her down?
And so, sliver by sliver, Marjeta Petrell was formed, and her web of stories spread out from those initial concepts of the witch with her mirror, her open hand offering death. She went from Evil Stepmother to something far greater than a sum of fairy tale images. She became a person.
I wanted to write a book that explored female friendships, family, their connections which bring both kindness and pain. And it turned out Snow White was the perfect template for that, odd as it might have seemed at first. There is still magic woven through the story, but I like to think the magic runs darker and deeper, and perhaps a little stranger for it.
Afterwards, Tara and I had a conversation, and ideas started to become more concrete.
"I was very excited when Francesca approached me to create the cover artwork for Cat’s new novel ‘Cast Long Shadows’ early on in 2021. A retelling of Snow White sounded amazing, and I know Cat is a brilliant author.
Francesca gave me a lot of reference on the main character ’Marjeta Petrell’, plus the overall feel of the story and colour details. I started with some initial sketches, and we decided on which one to go for. I refined the sketch to work out Marjeta’s outfit and position of other various elements. From an artistic perspective, it was important that blood and burning were portrayed as streaks and washes of colour, with elements of gold washing through the hair of Cat's strong main character.
Technically it was a challenge, as restrictions meant I was unable to do a photoshoot, but we found a way around it, and the result is a mix of traditional pencil, acrylic paint work and finally colour created digitally. I know this will be an amazing book, and I can't wait to read it!"
Tara is a BSFA nominated artist & illustrator based in Saddleworth. Her influences include; surrealist photography, contemporary fantasy art, and indie horror films. She uses a mixture of traditional and digital media, exploring the blur between fine art and illustration. As an illustrator, she has produced art for: TTA Press, SST Publications, and Unsung Stories amongst others. As an artist, she creates bespoke portraits and original artwork for commission. Website: www.tarabush.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/taraannebush
Pre-orders for Cast Long Shadows will open this Spring.