Designing ‘The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club’

Christa Moffitt (Christabella Designs) shares the journey behind the cover of ‘The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club’. Joint winner of the Best Designed Commercial Fiction Cover category at the 2018 ABDA Awards, Christa details the trials of designing a cover with a particularly long title and breaking the mould in a well-trodden genre.

I had the pleasure of reading the manuscript and fell in love with the characters and the individual stories. This novel is set in the Northern Territory in the 1980’s where a group of isolated, rural women of varying ages and backgrounds come together through a book club. The book needed to sit in a sweet spot in terms of demographic — it was aimed at rural-story lovers and needed to be a book club-read for women aged 25–100, like an Aussie Guernesy Literary and Potato Peel Society.

I wanted to explore concepts that had a strong use of type (which was in some ways unavoidable seeing that the title is so long). I was trying to avoid the well trodden path of rural landscape scenes. It was my aim to create something that had more of a personal feel, a nod to beautiful Australiana themes without the cheesy undertones. Enter pens and paper, scribbles and swearing.

Sometimes the more you love a book, the more pressure you place on yourself to get the clothes to fit just right.

After the first round of concepts, we were not there. The publisher wanted to see a few concepts that read more like an invitation, inviting the reader into the book club. The phrases ‘You are invited to‘, ‘You are welcome to‘ were added to the design.

We tried a few in the 80s type vein as that is the time period of the book. Despite these being eye-catching, they didn’t strike the right balance. I trawled through pages upon pages of vintage botanical illustrations to get the right mix of flowers and native elements. From the start I loved the idea of a cheeky bird on the cover, and the galah landed perfectly in the letter D.


For the chosen concept, I filled in an engraved style typeface to create the main title block. I love how bold it is, and how it references a sign  entering a farm. By allowing me to have the blurb on the inside cover, the back cover continues the invite theme and incorporates a mud map to the farm.

While this cover may not be as edgy as some, I love it when a classic approach to a cover fits a story so well and looks like it was conceived effortlessly. I’m so delighted that this cover was recognised at the ABDAs, and sharing an award with the über-talented Alissa Dinallo was a treat!

Select imagery used in draft cover concepts is shown here for the purpose of education and review only.