I was so excited to finally reveal the cover for Double or Nothing this week, after months of designing, discussing and delayed gratification.
Here it is in all its beauty –
And, just as excitingly, Waterstones here in the UK is bringing out an exclusive signed edition featuring a sumptuous sprayed edge and an essay by me on the legacy of women in Bond. I’m going to be signing three thousand copies of them soon, and will let you know if I still even have a hand at the end of it all…
I’m so grateful to Waterstones for supporting the first book in the Double O trilogy. I keep thinking back to spending Saturdays at my local Waterstones in Camden Town when I was growing up – how I’d circle the entire shop until I was carrying a stack of books, and then sit cross-legged in a corner to choose which to spirit away with the money I earnt childminding. I’m a Libran so this decision-making process would take hours and the booksellers were always so kind and encouraging.
(That same Waterstones is also where I bought a dictionary of baby names when I was about fourteen to help me name characters in the stories I was writing. Teen pregnancy was high at my school, and I remember how the bookseller at the till looked initially surprised and then gave me the nicest smile. As it happened I was just naming fictional babies, but I appreciated it all the same. I still use that dictionary when I need a little inspiration.)
All that to say, it’s an incredible feeling to have Waterstones support my writing in this way. Thank you!
I will also be signing a thousand copies of the beautiful regular edition for independent bookshops around the UK. I was lucky to grow up in North West London, where we had at that time two fantastic independent bookshops, Owl Bookshop in Kentish Town and Apostrophe in Dartmouth Park. Owl is still going strong and just as brilliant as ever.
Even earlier than my trips to Waterstones, I remember taking money I earnt looking after the tortoise next door (I hadn’t yet graduated to humans) to buy the Famous Five series one-by-one. For me, a neighbourhood becomes a home once I get to know the booksellers in the local indie, and I am so thrilled to be sending signed copies of Double or Nothing to their shelves.
I will also be signing copies at events around the UK. For folks in the US, I’m afraid the global button above won’t work for you, and all I can say at the moment is watch this space… but I promise there is exciting news coming just for you very soon!
I was delighted by the reaction to the cover – I love it so much and was really hoping everyone else would too. A big thank you if you were one of the lovely people who commented on Twitter or Instagram!
The cover ties into the novel in ways that if I told you about I’d have to kill you, or at least get you to sign an NDA, which would be a hassle for everyone involved. But I’d love to share a little bit about the design. I’ve been fortunate that all of the publishers I’ve worked with have invited me into the design process. The cover for Double or Nothing was a collaboration between myself, the Fleming Estate and the team at HarperCollins.
Famously, Ian Fleming was deeply involved in the cover design for his novels. When Jonathan Cape took on Casino Royale in 1952, the first in the series, Fleming sent a note headed ‘Design’, promising to ‘submit some designs for a jacket and for binding the book (conforming with your own very high standards) to which I hope you would give sympathetic consideration.’ Fleming’s art direction first influenced Kenneth Lewis, whose designs were in-keeping with contemporaneous Festival of Britain style and lettering. Next was Pat Marriott, an early example of the legacy of women in the story of Bond, whose cover for Diamonds Are Forever I want framed on my wall.
Then came Richard Chopping’s covers – an artist recommended by Francis Bacon to Ann Fleming – whose designs would come to define Bond’s literary visual style for many people. Ian Fleming gave Chopping detailed briefs and the inner flap of From Russia With Love, their first collaboration, reads ‘devised by the author and executed by Richard Chopping.’ Fleming was so pleased with the results he wrote, ‘I think we ought to win some sort of prize.’ The Chopping jackets are surreal, often uncanny, centring on a significant eerie object in the story rather than Bond himself.
Do you collect the Bond books? I am proud owner of all of the books in Pan paperback and Folio Society, and three first editions, Live and Let Die, Thunderball and The Spy Who Loved Me.
You can read more about Bond’s cover design history – and feast your eyes on the stunning evolution of Bond covers from Jonathan Cape through to Pan Paperbacks and Penguin Modern Classics – in a wonderful book, Bond Bound: Ian Fleming and the Art of Cover Design, which was produced for the exhibition of the same name in 2008.
With this iconic history behind us, where to start for Double or Nothing? A cover is a visual statement of intent. Double or Nothing brings Ian Fleming’s characters, stories and settings into the present-day, while introducing new heroes battling new global concerns, so we wanted something that feels fresh and contemporary while still resonating with the past. As a term, ‘Double O’ is a gift, and as Double or Nothing introduces new Double O agents for the first time, we wanted something that features two Os or circles.
For early inspiration, we looked to mid-century modern and modernist architecture, design and typography. This felt appropriate because it recalls the aesthetic of Bond’s birth and the early films, brilliantly rendered by set designer Ken Adam and title designer Maurice Binder. We looked at Ken Briggs’ graphic designs for the Barbican; Ken Adam’s sketches, particularly how he uses shapes; the International Modern Style of bold shapes, angles and type; and of course the heritage of the circle in Bond design, right back to Binder’s title sequence for Dr. No.
Ironically, Fleming detested modernist architecture, calling Corbusier’s housing in Marseilles a ‘flattened human ants’ nest’ and in Berlin an ‘up-ended-packet-of-fags’ that ‘treats the human being as a six-foot cube of flesh and breathing-space and fits him with exquisite economy into steel and concrete cells.’ Not a fan, then. (But so well put.) Indeed, Fleming insisted it was pure coincidence that his villain Auric Goldfinger and the modernist architect Ernő Goldfinger shared a surname.
After several iterations for the cover of Double or Nothing, the idea of clear and simple geometry emerged. We tried many different colour palettes, but kept coming back to white and gold. This represents a departure from recent, darker designs for Bond covers, and indeed a departure from thrillers more broadly. Geometry also represents a departure from thriller covers today. Of course, gold is perhaps the colour of Bond. I hope that the gold and white palette, coupled with the confidence and simplicity of the geometry, lends a contemporary freshness and dynamism to the book.
When my debut novel, Testament, was published in 2018, my sister Rosie and my friend Lauren baked a cake for the launch featuring an exact reproduction of the book’s cover. Of course I expect nothing less for my second novel, and I hope Rosie and Lauren appreciate that we’ve gone for something slightly easier to reproduce in icing this time.
From Kim, With Love x
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Have mine on order!
It's such a stunning cover.
And will make a fantastic cake, no doubt.
Good luck, Kim.
Lovely cover. That’s one hell of a news letter!
I look forward to hearing you on the Spybrary podcast! Enjoy the cake.