Following on from the map which I posted here a couple of weeks ago, here is David Wyatt's original cover artwork for A Web of Air, showing Mayda from above in all its 3D glory. It looks slightly less built up than in the map - perhaps it is an image of an earlier stage in the city's development, or maybe Mr Wyatt was working from unreliable traveller's tales and cheap souvenir woodcuts which have found their way to him aboard the wandering land-barges. No matter; it captures just about perfectly the sense of light and space which I have tried to describe in the new book.
Anyone familiar with Infernal Devices will know that it contains a rather cruel caricature of Brighton, which is portrayed as a flakey (and, indeed, flaking) hell-hole full of self-styled artists and pleasure-seeking idiots, drawn from all my bitterest memories of the place. In some ways Mayda is based on the better side of Brighton, as I remember it both from my younger days, and from the summer of '88 when I first moved back there after college. Then, with its white buildings, steep streets and marine light, it felt like a city of dreams, and it became a sort of starting-point for Mayda. But once I started writing, Mayda soon became its own place; part Spanish, part Portuguese, part Cornish, it's a city of merchants and sailors who worship the Goddess of the Sea, fear most technology, and just about tolerate the angels, whose ugly mugs are such a feature of David's painting. The angels are the WOME's first really non-human characters: mutated gulls who who briefly achieved enough intelligence to have a sort of society of their own, but are now regressing back into common birds, and mostly just interested in snacks.
To my sorrow, David's artwork will not be featured on the paperback editions of A Web of Air, for Scholastic have done some market research and concluded that it looks old fashioned and is Not What The Kids Want. It is to be replaced by a simpler cover which uses mainly type and which I can't be bothered to show you as I feel it's rather ugly and would lower the tone of the whole blog. Happily, for those old fuddy-duddies amongst us who still like our books to come wrapped in a good picture, there is to be a special hardback edition which will carry this fine painting.
A Web of Air will be published in April. David Wyatt's blog is full of good stuff and may be found at http://davidwyatt.posterous.com