Elsa Mathern with Bellevue Square – Behind the Design #BehindTheDesign #BellevueSquare #BookCover #CoverLove

behind the design


“The Behind the Design feature follows the very best of book cover designers and explores the inspiration behind their latest creations, the process behind the designs and the quest to find the perfect book covers. Book covers entice us over in a bookshop, they’re the spark of intrigue or fluttering of wonder that invite us to discover the world inside the words. To highlight some of these covers and their extraordinarily talented creators, I thought I’d launch a feature that will take a look at the process behind the design. I hope you enjoy it!”




Welcome to a new post in the Behind the Design Feature! Today, I’m so thrilled to have Elsa Mathern (designer for No Exit Press) and Katherine Sunderland (Publicist for No Exit Press and Book Blogger) on the blog to talk about the stunning cover design for Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill! This is such an incredible cover – I absolutely loved reading about Elsa’s process of finding the perfect design! It’s fascinating!!




Elsa Mathern & Katherine Sunderland with Bellevue Square!



Bellevue Square has possibly been one of the most challenging covers we’ve had to design this year. This is a book with a very unique narrative; it’s witty and sharp yet dark and surprising. It starts off as a thriller yet descends into something much more psychologically complex. It’s a prize winning, literary read, but the endearing voice of the main character makes it a great read for fans of commercial fiction. It explores themes of identity, doubles, obsession and chaos.


Our designer, Elsa Mathern, is fantastic. She has worked with No Exit for a long time and she has an intuitive understanding of the titles we publish and the crime fiction market. She always reads the manuscripts as soon as they are available to help understand the style of the book, as well as seeing if there are any key images from the story which might inspire her designs. Elsa works very closely with the whole team, and her dedication and thoroughness means that she doesn’t stop until she has produced the most effective, powerful and beautiful cover.


Elsa produced around 15 front covers for Bellevue Square and the conversations discussing the designs lasted about six weeks. A truly unique experience for the whole team!


The main challenge was that we needed a cover that would capture the elements of mystery, psychological suspense as well as the more complex, much darker existentialist themes. There also seemed so much potential with the idea of doubles, reflections, mirrors and perception that are repeated throughout the book, we all felt the cover design needed to capture this.


Harder than it sounds!

Here are some of the designs that Elsa produced. As you can see they are all very different.



Here area few of the early designs!








And here is the finished design!



Bellevue Square






About Elsa:





I am an experienced graphic designer and typesetter working for the publishing industry. I have worked as a freelance book designer since 2005, predominantly for covers of literary and historical crime/thriller novels for authors such as Robert Olen Butler, James Sallis and Bill Beverly. I also design non-fiction books, from academic criticism to ‘how to’ guides, primarily about cinema and pop culture.

I have designed covers and interior layouts for hundreds of publications ranging from short novelty books to 800+ pages reference books. I am also a skilled typesetter in both English and French.

After some years in London, I am now based in the French Alps and work with independent publishers, university presses and self-published authors from the UK, France and North America.


Elsa’s Website Link!




Here are just a few of Elsa’s beautiful designs!




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About Bellevue Sqaure:




Bellevue Square




Winner of the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize



Jean Mason has a doppelganger.

She’s never seen her, but others* swear they have.

*others | noun. A peculiar collection of drug addicts, scam artists, philanthropists, philosophers and vagrants – the regulars of Bellevue Square.


Jean lives in downtown Toronto with her husband and two kids. The proud owner of a thriving bookstore, she doesn’t rattle easily – not like she used to. But after two of her customers insist they’ve seen her double, Jean decides to investigate. Curiosity grows to obsession and soon Jean’s concerns shift from the identity of the woman, to her very own.

Funny, dark and surprising, Bellevue Square takes readers down the existentialist rabbit hole and asks the question: what happens when the sense you’ve made of things stops making sense?


Amazon Link!

Book Depository Link!





About Michael Redhill:



michael redhill



Michael Redhill is the author of the novels Consolation, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Martin Sloane, a finalist for the Giller Prize. He’s written a novel for young adults, four collections of poetry and two plays, including the internationally celebrated Goodness. He also writes a series of crime novels under the name Inger Ash Wolfe. His most recent novel, Bellevue Square, won the 2017 Giller Prize. Michael lives in Toronto.


Find him on Twitter!





That’s it! I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about the process behind the design as much as I have! Huge thank you to Elsa Mathern and Katherine Sunderland for appearing on my blog with this wonderful piece!

Keep an eye out for more posts in this feature soon!

If you’re a book cover designer and you’d like to be involved in my new feature please drop me a line at ronnieturner7@aol.com! I’d love to hear from you!




behind the design

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