It’s very rare for a book cover to be designed by an author. Even more rare? For that book cover to be as gorgeous as this one for Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez. Get your first look at the cover below!
Magic and romance mix with rich Bolivian history in this debut novel from Isabel Ibañez. That’s clear from the moment you set eyes on its alluring cover. The fact that the author created such a beautiful cover for her debut novel is incredibly impressive and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with the world.
And so, without further ado…
Check out the entrancing ‘Woven in Moonlight’ cover and read what Isabel Ibañez, the book’s author and cover artist, has to say about it!
What inspired you to write your debut, ‘Woven in Moonlight’?
I was inspired to write a Bolivian story that featured a Latina, brown skinned heroine as the star of the novel. I have been a voracious reader all my life, and I desperately wanted to see myself represented in many of the stories I loved growing up. Sadly, I never did find the representation I craved. In many ways, Woven in Moonlight is a love story to Bolivia, my upbringing and culture, the food I ate and the importance of family and traditions.
Beyond that, the story is heavily inspired by the political climate in Bolivia, one that is impacting my entire family living under the current president (though his actions are more like that of a dictator). No one really talks about what’s happening in South America, about the people in positions of power who are corrupt, incredibly dangerous and robbing people of their voices and democratic vote. Watching the events unfolding in Bolivia and the surrounding countries, I felt I needed to write this story because while it includes so many awful truths regarding the current situation, it also shows my hope for Bolivia.
How did you come to design the cover? Is it common in traditional publishing for authors to be able to design their own covers?
One day, my editor emailed asking if I knew of any Bolivian artists they could contract to design the cover. When I read the message, my jaw dropped for several reasons. One: I am an artist, illustrator and designer. Two: I am also Bolivian. And, three: the fact that they were even asking for a Bolivian artist meant so much to me. I didn’t think an opportunity like this could ever happen, and I actually wrestled whether or not to submit samples of my work. In the end, several friends and my agent encouraged me to do so, and when I submitted my portfolio, I told myself not to get my hopes up. Because it’s extremely rare, almost unheard of, that an author will have the support, trust and backing of their publisher to design their own cover. It’s just not done.
When the reply came, it was a resounding yes. They loved my work and fully supported my vision for the cover and trusted me to execute it. To say the experience was a dream come true is a profound understatement. I literally have no words.
Did you feel concern or any kind of pressure embarking on this task?
In a word: YES. As an artist, you have to be open to constructive critique, client requests for changes and edits, and the idea that sometimes you’ll have to start all over again until you get it exactly right. With the cover of Woven in Moonlight, I was essentially my own client. My own critic, my own taskmaster. If I hated what I came up with there was no one to blame but myself. The pressure to come up with the right take, the right concept was immense as I felt there were so many directions I could go. My publisher, editor, and their design team trusted me with everything: the cover, the interior illustrations, and a map. When I sat down to draw, I prayed I wouldn’t mess up this incredible opportunity.
What did you especially want to keep in mind when approaching the design?
South America is a vibrant, colorful place. Full of folk-art ranging from paintings to tapestries, and I wanted to somehow capture what I find beautiful in Bolivia: it’s lush and dangerous, somewhat whimsical and filled with every shade of green imaginable. I knew from the beginning I wanted to illustrate the bulk of the cover in order to reflect the hand-made quality most art exhibits in Bolivia, while also adhering to a bright color palette.
Any particular inspiration?
No specific inspiration, it was mainly a feeling I wanted to capture. I wanted the cover to feel lush and wild like the tropical regions in Bolivia, whimsical, dangerous while showcasing some of the celestial magic woven throughout the narrative. The story centers around a revolution and a mystery, and I wanted there to be hints of that on the cover as well.
How many options did you try for the design / how many redesigns?
Funny story. Whenever I approach a project, I often give myself time to imagine different concepts in my mind before I actually set pencil to paper. For Woven in Moonlight, I “saw” the cover in my mind and when I sat down to draw it, I was happy with the marriage of what I’d imagined to what developed on the paper. The cover you see today is that first sketch, and it’s only been tweaked a handful of times. I sent off the full color proof to my editor in a text message, and she was ecstatic. Somehow, my first try hit the mark. And then of course the doubts came, and I wondered if I ought to try more concepts, if I was limiting myself, because it seemed impossible that the process could have been that easy. In the end, my publisher, editor, their design team, and the sales team at Macmillan loved that first cover design and that’s what we went with.
What is your favorite element on the cover?
I love that it’s my handwriting that spells out the title, and how there’s a variety of animals—especially the sloth—featured on the front. The cover feels whimsical with an undercurrent of danger and mystery, which reflects the story itself.
What materials did you use to create the design?
Pencil and paper! From there I sent the sketch to my iPad Pro and used the procreate app to finish the rest. I’ve been trying to streamline my process, and the method has worked wonders.
About ‘Woven in Moonlight’
Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.
When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.
She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge―and her Condesa.
Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez is set to hit shelves on January 7, 2020. You can preorder your copy now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository, or Indiebound. Also, don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads “to read” shelf!