In this guest post by Vodníkauthor Bryce Moore, Bryce continues to share his favorite things to see, do, and eat when visiting Slovakia.
What to See
In my last post, I gave a rundown of some of Slovakia’s best castles. But Slovakia’s more than just castles:
Bratislava is the capital of the country. It’s a gorgeous old city, and it’s only 45 minutes away from Vienna–they make excellent cities to tour together. Bratislava has much of the same refined culture that you see in Vienna, but it’s at a fraction of the price. (I once went to the state opera and got box seats for $4. Prices have gone up significantly since then, or course.) Check out the markets in the old square, where craftsmen from around the area come together each day to sell their wares. Great stuff.
Banska Stiavnica is a fascinating old mining city. It’s a drive to get there, but once you arrive, you find a city that’s essentially been left alone for the last few hundred years. (One of the tragedies of many places in Slovakia is that Communists made it a point to tear down or change a lot of the historical landmarks. Banska Stiavnica must not have been deemed important enough to warrant Communist attention.) It’s got mines that are over 700 years old, a series of reservoirs, fantastic old churches–and some of the steepest hills I’ve walked up and down. Bring your hiking shoes! (And make sure to check out the Chateau in St. Anton, a town right next to the city. It’s honestly better than any of the attractions I went to in Vienna. Much more authentic—it really gives you a sense of how the Hapsburgs lived.
In this guest post by Vodníkauthor Bryce Moore, Bryce shares his favorite things to see, do, and eat when visiting Slovakia.
When I was asked to write a brief guest blog post about traveling to Slovakia, the first question that popped into my head was, “How do I keep it brief?” I’ve been to the country many times, and I absolutely adore it. There’s so much to see and do—although there are some things you have to watch out for if you’re not accompanied by a native Slovak speaker.
First off, let me say that this is just really for western Slovakia. I have yet to be over to the eastern half of the country, and I don’t know much about it. In many ways (from what I’ve been told, at least) the eastern and western sides are like two different places. Eastern Slovakia has a much bigger influence from Hungary. Western Slovakia is influenced by Austria and the Czech Republic. Surprising, in a country that’s significantly smaller than West Virginia. But then again, it’s Europe. Things work differently over there.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let me dig right into the meat of the topic: why should someone want to go to Slovakia? A better question would be why wouldn’t someone want to go to Slovakia? It’s a beautiful country, filled with mountains in the north, plains in the south, and rolling hillsides in between. It’s got dense forests, wild rivers, and some of the most awesome castles you can think of. The food is fantastic, the people are friendly, and it’s an area most Americans haven’t even heard of. (Seriously. Try writing a book that takes place in Slovakia, and see how many people ask you where that is again.)
In the first part of our guest blog, Tu Books Editorial Director Stacy Whitman and designer Isaac Stewart discussed how they came up with the cover concept for the novel Vodník. In part II, they share covers they considered and explain how they came up with the final design.
Isaac: By the time we chose a direction for the cover, I had created something like twenty-two thumbnails. I’ll admit, I went a little overboard, but I really wanted to give Vodnik the attention it deserved. And honestly, it was hard work finding the desired balance between ominous and whimsical.
COVER 1: THE HORROR
Isaac: This cover has a lot going for it, despite my getting the color of the vodník’s arm wrong. Initially, I wanted to have a hand thrust up out of the water, a crushed teacup in its grasp. As I searched for images that matched, I found this one and decided it played off the ominous feeling I was hoping for. I tried the whole fire and water dichotomy with the colors of the title and byline, and was hoping that the text itself would carry the Eastern Block feel. The large, in-your-face title was a precursor to what we wound up using on the final cover.
The biggest problem with this cover was it looked like a horror novel, almost completely ignoring the fantasy and whimsy that are also big parts of the story. To tell the truth, it didn’t even look like a YA book.
Stacy: Yeah, this one just wasn’t working for me. It looked too horror-y, and didn’t have the right sensibility that I was going for. Which brought us to…
In this two-part guest blog post, designer Isaac Stewart and Tu Books Editorial Director Stacy Whitman discuss how they came up with the final cover for our new YA fantasy, Vodník:
Isaac: Before brainstorming ideas for a book design, I usually get a few pieces of key information from the editor:
1. What age-range and demographic do we want the book to target?
2. What would the editor like the cover to convey?
3. What has the author said they would like to see on the cover?
Here’s how Stacy answered:
1. The book’s design should appeal to both female and male tweens and teens, but should specifically target the male teen.
2. Stacy wanted a cover that felt ominous, fantastical, with a dash of whimsy.
3. Bryce [Moore, the author] specifically mentioned that he found covers with bold shapes and colors both beautiful and striking. But if we decided to go for a more photographic cover, he wanted to see the vodník statue or Trenčín castle.