Posted by: Linda Proud | January 14, 2008

The End is Nigh

I’ve just finished checking the fourth set of page proofs for The Rebirth of Venus. Fortunately my typesetter is long-suffering and doesn’t mind my hopeless quest for perfection. Between us, we’ve just cured all the hyphenations, and naturally I’ve taken the opportunity to tweak a little here and there. But it really does feel like dusting a finished statue now.

The cover was just as difficult to finalise as the book. I had nothing in mind before we started playing with colours. Naturally the image had to be from Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. I wish it didn’t — it’s so hackneyed. But David in his brilliance thought of flipping it and focussing on the head. Now the image is both familiar and strange all at once, and different qualities emerge in the goddess, more introverted and soulful. As for the colours, we gave ourselves headaches with the pantone palette. I tried lots of different backgrounds but only two created that sense of inner affirmation which says, ‘That’s it!’ One was pink, and I feared it would put men off from reading it in public. The other was laid-back, elegant cream. It seemed right but it didn’t seem perfect, not until we arrived at deep cherry for the type. Then, in a moment of illumination, I took up a copy of A Tabernacle for the Sun and realised it was the same colour-combination, only reversed. Then it seemed perfect.

I had an email from Lindsay Clarke today. The novel he’s working on has been even longer in gestation (twelve years) and he’s finding it just as hard to get it finished. Perhaps our mutual difficulty is in the stars — I’d like to think so. 2008 — the year of elephantine births.

Meanwhile I learn that poor Tewekesbury is putting out the sandbags again. Our watermeadow is flooded but that is normal for this time of year. But if Gloucestershire floods again, so will Oxford in all likelihood. And despite numerous community meetings, we’re still unprepared. All talk, no action.

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