I am so excited that I get to tell you about a NEW BOOK! The Siege of Caerlaverock is a medieval David-and-Goliath tale based on real events at Caerlaverock Castle in Dumfries and Galloway – and here is the gorgeous cover!
It is a stunner, I think – designed by Cranachan Publishing’s Anne Glennie who felt very strongly about using the image of the actual castle, not just any other medieval stronghold.
It took a little while to arrive at the final product, an image of the castle ruin (albeit well-preserved) as it is now, overlaid with the dramatic events which unfolded there in July 1300 when the King of England, Edward Longshanks, surrounded and besieged the castle with an army over 3000 strong, while those inside numbered only sixty or so men. Certainly, some of those inside were women – and this opened up the brilliant possibility of writing a knights-and-castles, Wars-of-Independence story for kids, but with a female point of view character. My main source was a contemporary heraldic poem.
12-year-old Ada is a laundress of little consequence, but the new castle commander Brian de Berclay has his evil eye on her. Perhaps she shouldn’t have fed the young prisoner in the tower.
But when the King of England crosses the border with an army over 3000 strong, Ada, her friend Godfrey and all at Caerlaverock suddenly find themselves under attack, with only 60 men for protection. Soon, rocks and flaming arrows rain from the sky over Castle Caerlaverock – and Ada has a dangerous choice to make.
THE COVER IMAGE:
Our early discussions centred on the building itself. The castle definitely had to be featured in the cover image, right? If you have a real-life location which people can still visit, it seems a waste not to capitalise on this. It is Scotland’s only triangular castle and a popular filming location. The name itself means ‘fort of the skylark’ (from caer meaning fort; and the old English laewerce meaning lark). Gorgeous and evocative, and perfect for a story!
Back to the Drawing Board. Anne and I brainstormed and I wondered if the real location could be featured in the cover by way of a map? We hunted down some old-fashioned maps, and attempted to show the female heroine in front of the castle, alongside some birds to reflect the skylark connection.However, although the building looked great, the map graphics only made the overall effect less clear, and the atmosphere still lacked threat. I did love the font though!
I left it in Anne’s capable hands, and as always, she delivered. Just look at the progress in our next step! We had the threatening atmosphere at last! Night-time wanderings, the female at the centre of the story, being watched by the Commander from on high. We also wondered about the title and discussed it at length: Ada is a girl under siege. There are enemies outside, but she is also being hunted within the castle walls.
Still, the Castle was a character in itself and needed to be in the title. And the figure of the girl did not quite have the impact we were looking for. We wanted to get across the movement and the drama that happened here somehow. Knights galloping their chargers around the besieged fortress, the drawing of weapons, the clanging of armour, the whistling of fiery missiles through the air…
The solution came by superimposing one image onto another. Wish I could claim credit for it, but it is all Anne’s doing! What you see is the castle ruin as it is now, but seen through a lens of an event which happened there 720 years ago. Shadows of the past in the misty murk of the present.
There is a bit of me which gets goosebumps every time I think of that, the memory of stones…
I love the cover!
And I can’t wait to hear what you all think!