Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Went on a photo shoot for my novel (fancy-sounding, eh?) Have you ever done your own art for your novel?


So I don’t often post on my WIP (Hooligans in Shining Armour) on here, but when I do…

JK I’m not going to go all Dos-Equis-most-interesting-man-in-the-world on you today. I’m going to talk about HISA today because I did something super fun with the help of Cait, an awesome writer friend! What did we do, you may (or may not) ask? We went on a photo shoot! I’m drawing nearer to submitting to agents, so I figured I’d do some promo work, if you will.

So there are a few visual things that are featured in HISA. Two include walls dividing people and red Converse. Fiona and Danny’s neighborhoods are divided by a “peace wall” that is about thirty feet high. Danny’s side of the wall is covered with graffiti art that was commissioned to beautify the wall. Fiona wears red Converse the entire book. I currently live in Singapore, not Belfast, so we had to find a location that could pass for a wall as described in the book. I bought red Converse to celebrate finishing the latest draft of HISA. So now I’ve officially become an unpaid shoe model as well as a full-time unpaid writer. My friend scouted locations and we found the side of a building on Arab Street covered with artistic graffiti.

So the one up top is my favorite, but here’s another I really like with a bit different perspective. I’m actually not sure which I like better, so if you have an opinion, leave a comment below!

ImageHere’s a few pictures of Arab Street in case you’re curious…


And a few shots of the Cupar Way peace wall I took on the Shankill (Danny’s side) while in Belfast:


I’m hoping to return to Belfast this Fall so then perhaps I won’t need this kind of staging, but it was fun to do. In my dream world, I’d commission a book trailer to be filmed in Belfast. Still scheming on this one.

To learn more about HISA and read a sample chapter, click here.   Also here’s some more photos from my trip to Northern Ireland.

Have you ever used your creativity to make promotional materials or cover art for your novel? If you’ve self-published, how how have you designed your cover?

6 thoughts on “Went on a photo shoot for my novel (fancy-sounding, eh?) Have you ever done your own art for your novel?

    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      Thanks for the input! So my novel’s set post-Troubles, but shows some of the lasting impact of the Troubles fifteen years after the Good Friday Agreement and the sectarianism that still exists. Though really I’m more focused on the characters.

      I have no idea how familiar you are with the Troubles or current events in Northern Ireland. If you’re not, If you do take on writing about the Troubles…all I’ll say is it is an incredibly complex historical situation and the legacy is still significantly impacting Northern Ireland today. It’s also a very touchy subject for people not from Northern Ireland to write about, based on my experience working and consulting with people in Belfast and people who have lived and worked in Ireland in general. And quite understandably, too.

      Oh the things I know now that I was clueless about before taking this whole project on. Months and months and months (and months) of research on history, current events, issues facing teens in Belfast, paramilitaries. Dialect. So much research on dialect.

      If I had known how hard it would all be….. lol I don’t know.

      Anyway, love your cover and thanks for stopping by! sorry about the unsolicited advice on the novel you’re only considering writing lol.


      1. christineplouvier

        No problem about the unsolicited advice! The only doubt I have with writing the novel about the Troubles is if I’ll live long enough to do it! When I started writing Irish Firebrands, I was in the same position you were in (utterly clueless and putting in years of research, including a trip to the Republic, back in ’09). The first novel, which takes place in 2007, has a sort of “Chekhov’s Gun” (referring to events in Derry and Belfast) which was a complete mystery to me when I wrote it, but on later reflection, I understood that I had to have some background in that era, in order to figure out where my male MC was coming from with some of his behavior. So…you know how that goes! 😉


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