The original design of the cover was very similar to the final version with one major difference: the castle. The original castle was small, pointy and situated in a forest.
My first thought was Who in their right mind would put a castle in the forest? That’s a security breach waiting to happen.
I asked my editor whether we could change the castle a little. Couldn’t we use a picture of the real one, the one that’s featured in the book?
I was told that the art department couldn’t find a picture of the real castle that was in good enough shape to use. All the available images were woodcuts or line drawings, and in them the castle was tumbledown. It didn’t look new, like it would have in 1293.
Frankly, I was puzzled. The castle featured in W/J is Caernarfon Castle. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s one of the best-preserved medieval structures in Britain. It was built to last, and it has.
That’s when it hit me. In W/J, the castle’s name is spelled Caernarvon – the medieval English spelling, not the modern Welsh spelling of Caernarfon. The art department was looking for Caernarvon-with-a-v. No wonder all they found were relics from the ancient past.
Caernarvon-with-a-v was built as an English town intended for settlement by English people to benefit the English Crown. Caernarfon-with-an-f represents the kind of social progress that had to come from many generations of coexistence and changing circumstance. It is not the place built by the English Crown in the thirteenth century.
Once I told the art department to look for Caernarfon-with-an-f, they found what they needed right away. The very fact that I had to cuts to the heart of W/J – an intersection of language and occupation and unequal power, and the work that can only be done by time.