Passing_Through_front coverWhile Coral Atkinson’s previous novels were published by Random House and her non-fiction by Shoal Bay and Reed, she has worked with publishing students before, on her junior novel Copper Top, which she published herself under her Dancing Tuatara imprint. She was keen to repeat the experience with her third historical novel, Passing Through, launched in early 2014.

‘The publishing students involved with both books have been so committed and so enthusiastic. They have come up with excellent, fresh suggestions, picked up on small details and drawn attention to things that might otherwise have been ignored,’ says Coral Atkinson. ‘I am really thrilled with Passing Through. I think it looks stunning.’

The book is set in Lyttelton in the aftermath of World War I and was released in April 2014, a publication date timed both for Mother’s Day – an important date in the bookseller’s calendar and good moment for selling historical fiction – and the raised interest in wartime that attends Anzac Day celebrations.


Designing a beautiful package

The student grouped worked on editing and production, and with designer Keely O’Shannessy on the cover design. They were aiming to create a beautiful package, something suitable for a gift for Mother’s Day and that could take advantage of working outside the restrictive design budgets that some publishers are constrained by.

The students briefed the designer to produce a cover the would appeal to women and sit firmly in the ‘historical fiction’ genre but would also be a beautiful gift package. They asked her to explore the idea of a jacketed paperback for a feeling of luxury. The cover should evoke the 1920s, the aftermath of war and the spiritualism referred to in the title.

Keely got it right first time (as usual!). Here are her first design roughs.

passing through roughs



passing throughA jacketed paperback

The final package has a paperback case featuring art deco motifs peeking out from behind a gorgeous jacket that gives all the right messages.






passing through promotional packPromotional pack

Labour intensive to put together, yes, but certain to make an impact, Passing Through‘s promotional packages for selected bookshops and media contained silk poppies, two chocolate hearts, Union Jack ribbons and the wrapping to simulate the ectoplasm that features in the novel. The wrapping was a student’s suggestion.

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