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Book Making: David Drummond captures the humanity in Yann Martel’s new novel

Quebec Designer David Drummond searched everywhere to find the perfect cover concept for the French-language edition of Yann Martel’s latest novel, The High Mountains of Portugal. Published in Quebec under the title Les Hautes Montagnes du Portugal by Les Éditions XYZ, the story is broken into three interconnected sections, the first of which follows a young man on his automobile journey through the European mountains. The second is the tale of a pathologist obsessed with Agatha Christie mysteries, followed by the story of a grieving Ottawa senator who takes refuge in Portugal with his pet chimpanzee.

Here, Drummond shares a behind-the-scenes look at two early cover mock-ups and the final design.

Mock-up one: “In the book, the character Tomás finds an old journal, which leads him on a quest. I thought it would be cool to show the actual book, leading you up into the high hills and mountains. But the feeling with this one was that it lacked  a human element and was kind of cold. I think there was also a problem with the type being so restrained.”

Mock-up two: “With this one I was really trying to capture the warmth and feel of Portugal. I managed to find an actual photo of the car model from the book, which took me a long time. The publisher really liked this one because it has more colour and drama, but the feedback I received was that this is a story of love lost and that element was missing from the design.”

Final design: “For me, the three tears represent the three parts of the book. The final design also addresses the lost-love part of the story with that hand reaching through the middle section. The hand could also be
reaching through history or time, and connecting the stories together. This cover could be interpreted as a page from the journal, or the
uncovering of a secret.”