Author secures publishing deal and top artist to illustrate debut novel

Neil Shawcross pens cover art for Rebecca Reid’s ‘Thickets Wood’

Irish author Rebecca Reid has not only secured a publishing deal from Liberties Press for her debut print novel, Thickets Wood, but also won the favour of renowned artist Neil Shawcross, who penned the original cover art.

Shawcross, who taught at Belfast College of Art from 1968 to 2004 and was elected to the Royal Ulster Academy of Art in 1977, was recently awarded an MBE. The haunting image that reflects the troubling storyline of the book will grace 100 hardback copies in a limited edition run.

Thickets Wood is Reid's first published novel and weaves a web of intrigue as it explores the fear and destruction caused by village folklore. The story revolves around the mental deterioration of the central character, Tommy Tinkit, a 12-year-old boy, who finds himself torn between reality and the dark uncertainty of another dimension.

Reid herself was withdrawn from school due to illness at the age of 14. Being limited in whatshe was able to do, she wrote all the time. At 16, she had her own page in the local weekly newspaper, the Bangor Spectator. At 17 she became a model but writing was still her passion and in 2008 she graduated in English from Queen's University, Belfast, securing an Arts Council writing grant in 2009. She lives in Northern Ireland with her husband and their three daughters. Her debut novel The Coop was self-published in 2012.

Reid said of the collaboration with Shawcross: “It’s thrilling for any new author to secure a publishing deal and to have had the opportunity to work with such an iconic Irish artist has made the whole experience even more exciting.”

The project was a also a first for Shawcross, who had never before created an image directly inspired by text. Shawcross said: “As an artist, I thrive on the opportunity to challenge myself and when Rebecca approached me with her book I found easy inspiration in the storyline. The result is a piece of work that took me by surprise but is a true reflection of how the words struck me.”

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