My friend Jami wrote the short story, Keepers At the Floating Bridge, to inspire a novel she has begun writing since. I was especially struck by how integral the setting is in creating the distinctly dark and sorrowful tone of the story. Every element of the book's design is chosen to reinforce this setting.
The story takes place high in a mountain village but near the sea. For the cover, I created a digital collage of prints from Hokusai’s famous 36 Views of Mount Fuji. From craggy mountain passes shrouded in fog to the fishing boats tossed on stormy seas, I wanted to capture the spirit of this place. The images on the cover are balanced with more Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints within. These plates illustrating the dramatic mountain and ocean scenes are from Hiroshige.
The narrator spends her time trying to uncover her family's mysterious past. However, her family's and community's reserve makes it difficult to uncover the truth without drawing attention or alienating herself. The text is set in a narrow, tall column with a lot of negative space in order to create a sense of quiet unease. This layout offers a great deal space for the eyes to rest while forcing them to navigate the awkwardly short line length. It feels like it could almost be a poem or a song.
The book is bound with a stab binding, a traditional Japanese bookbinding technique. This final touch lend the piece a feeling of authenticity, as if the narrator might have bound it herself.