Behind the cover: The Fictional Man

To celebrate the publication of a stunning reissue of The Fictional Man by Al Ewing, we spoke to designer James Jones on the process of creating such an eye catching cover.

And now over to James:

The Fictional Man is an extraordinary novel from one of the most exciting voices in British fiction. I love working with Rebellion and when this brief dropped from the brilliant David Moore I couldn’t wait to get going.

I always start by reading the brief and any material given to me by the Editor. Over and over, until I really get what it is they want, and also how far I can push their initial ideas.

Reading the manuscript was a joy, and I kept coming back to the line: “The Fictional’s thoughts were as visible to the author as words on a page”.

I rolled with this idea, producing sketches and illustrations created entirely from letters and words. Cloning typography, using multiple heads to represent multiple characters. Multiple layers and storylines intertwined. Before working my ideas more fully via my computer. 

I really wanted the whole thing to be made out of typography, with just a colour block for added effect.

With the main character being an author, I also played around with the idea of placing a real book on top of the created illustrations. Adding another level and more depth to the cover options. I also quite liked the idea of tears (again made from typography) running down the cover. Which I was able to use across the back cover.

All of the typography used to create the cover was taken from the book. Overlapping key lines over and over again in different sizes to create the final illustration.

I also wanted the line “What’s it like, not being real? to be quite prominent.

The texture has that book/movie poster feel to it, and the red colour-way definitely suited the book’s atmosphere the best.

Final cover by James Jones.

James Jones is an award-winning freelance Art Director and Designer working with publishers and clients all around the world. In addition to freelance work, James was most recently Art Director for Head of Zeus, overseeing their Non Fiction imprints. Find out more at and follow James on Twitter and Instagram.

The Fictional Man by Al Ewing is out now!