Sep 10, 2007

Exclusive Interview With Moneypenny Diaries Cover Artist Stina Persson

Exclusive Interview With Moneypenny Diaries Cover Artist Stina Persson

After issuing Volume 1 of Samantha Weinberg’s “Moneypenny Diaries” trilogy of James Bond novels with a bland and misleading cover and more or less repeating that mistake with the hardcover edition of Vol. 2 (despite a half-hearted attempt to recall Richard Chopping's series of "gun still life" jackets for Fleming's originals), John Murray Publishers finally got creative with the paperback edition of the second book, Secret Servant. This time around they brought on designer Madeline Meckiffe and artist Stina Persson to create a vibrant and eye-catching illustrated cover. The result is both retro and modern at the same time: a Sixties throwback that sets the perfect tone for the story within, but stands out on the shelf. Whereas the initial covers made the books look like straight “chick lit," the paperback cover for Secret Servant perfectly captures the spirit of Ms. Weinberg’s books. Its combination of glamour and sophistication with a hint of sexy, Modesty Blaise-style danger should appeal to old and new readers, male and female alike. Ms. Persson, whose glam, Sixties-infused artwork has graced book covers, fashion magazines and galleries the world over, graciously took some time out of her busy schedule last month to chat with the Double O Section about her work on The Moneypenny Diaries.

00: How did you come to be involved with the cover to The Moneypenny Diaries Vol. 2 paperback?

SP: I was contacted by John Murray Publishers in [the] UK through my agent in New York.

00: What was the nature of your collaboration with designer Madeline Meckiffe? Were you involved in the decision to make this cover so radically different from the (much less attractive) cover to the paperback of Vol. 1?

SP: My first brief said that they looked for an illustration of a glam woman. And wanted me to capture classy 60s mood but also feel fresh and modern. Later I made sketches, and from then on I worked with Madeline Meckliffe, which was enjoyable. She wanted my ink style and the colors of her dress to be what stood out. Later it ended up being background and beaded necklace that were in color. I am doing the second cover this fall too, by the way.

00: Is that one for a new paperback edition of Vol. 1 (to make them match) or for the hardcover of next year's Vol. 3?

SP: I only know it as "the Next Moneypenny."

00: Prior to publication, another cover design appeared online depicting a woman with a gun and a prominent handbag. (You can see it here.) Were you involved in that? If so, why was the decision made to change it? (Good decision, by the way!)

SP: I have not seen this cover before.

00: Did you read Secret Servant, and had you ever read any other James Bond novels? Were you at all inspired by the artwork on the Sixties paperback covers or movie posters?

SP: I haven't been given the book, only “tear sheets” of the cover. (A reminder though that I should ask for a few samples.) I haven't read any James Bond novels either, but have seen the earlier movies many times and I really like the 60's esthetics in everything from hairdos to furniture and movie posters to music.

00: Have you had any conversations with Moneypenny Diaries author Samantha Weinberg?

SP: The book I've illustrated is by Kate Westbrook. And I have not have any contact with her. [Ed. Note: “Kate Westbrook” is the pseudonym of Samantha Weinberg. The publishers obviously didn’t feel the need to share this information with the design team!]

00: What's on the horizon for you? Where can fans see more of your artwork?

SP: I had a show with original art in New York this May, and the art work can be viewed at (scroll down). I'm planning a second show at Gallery Hanahou in NY this coming May. And then I am working on a couple of different assignments ranging from CD covers to construction cladding!

And for updates and more work, please check out (is to be updated and fixed this fall).

00: Thanks for your time, Stina. I and a lot of other Bond fans look forward to seeing your next cover, and I’ll definitely be following your other work as well. I love your style.

Read my exclusive interview with Moneypenny Diaries author Samantha Weinberg (aka Kate Westbrook) here.


Anonymous said...

Interesting interview. That new cover art reminds me a lot of the illustration and colors I use on my own blog and website.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic interview, Tanner. I love this cover art!

Samantha Fletcher said...

Hi. Great interview - thanks. Just some clarification: I asked to speak to Stina when she was commissioned to do the cover (which I love, as I do the hardback of Vol 3), but the powers-that-be at John Murray didn't think it was necessary. Similarly, I offered to write a detailed synopsis of the story, but again they thought that might distract her from the cover brief. The cover of Vol 3 has now been finalised without anyone having read a word of the book! Still, I think she's done a wonderful job, and I hope we persuade John Murray to re-jacket the first book before the centenary.
Thanks again - what luck to find this.

Tanner said...

Thanks so much for checking out my blog, Samantha! As you probably know if you've looked around, I'm a huge fan of what you've done with the Moneypenny Diaries.

Thanks for that information. It's too bad the publishers didn't put you in touch with Stina, but as you say, she certainly managed to do a great job and really capture the right feel even without synopses.