"Alex Murphy and the Golden Ram" Cover Revealed

Share Article

The artwork for the cover of the first book in "The Zodiacicals," the highly anticipated, zodiac-based middle-grade series is finally here!

"He's like a sheep with wings. The trouble is most flying sheep don't have wings." This was the challenge author Michelle Cerone gave Kathleen Marshall when she approached the artist about painting the cover art for her debut novel "Alex Murphy and the Golden Ram."

It was Marshall gladly accepted especially after learning that all of the proceeds from the series will go to support animal rescue organizations.

"I adore the project. I believe deeply in Michelle's wonderful writing and imagination. I [have] two daughters and am a big believer in providing good strong, brave images of females. The book is full of wonderful creatures and if it can make a good positive difference for actual living creatures through its non-profit element I am proud to be a part of it," said Marshall, mother of Megan and Emma Lawrence. Emma Lawrence provided the inspiration for Alex on the cover.

The ram in question was Aries, the first sign of the zodiac and the ram in Greek mythology who flew over Black Sea to save two children from the wrath of an evil stepmother. He was given his ability to fly by the nymph Nephele, but it was Marshall who gave him his wings.

Traditionally, in astrology, he was depicted without them until he became the star of "The Golden Ram." The book is the first in the brand-new, twelve-part zodiac-inspired series, "The Zodiacicals." The series follows the story of Alex Murphy, an extraordinarily, ordinary girl, who finds herself on a magical journey to find the twelve zodiac signs before dark forces destroy the world.

Marshall and Cerone went back and forth for about a month trying to figure out how best to depict Aries, with his sometimes dignified but mostly playful personality. Aries might be the first sign of the zodiac, but he's also the youngest and doesn't quite take everything as serious as he should. Marshall then spent hours studying classic children's book covers, pegai, rams and hundreds of frolicking lambs before she started painting.

The result was the stunning works Marshall created for the front and back covers. The front cover reveals Aries dignified side, where he stands proudly on a mountain, behind the main character Alex, who is up close. The back cover reveals the ram's more playful nature as he frolics through the air, an image inspired by a leaping lamb.

"Kathy's cover perfectly reflects the mood I wanted to create for Alex Murphy. It's dramatic and draws in the reader. But at the same time, it's bright and inviting." Cerone said, "I wanted to write a book that was exciting but wasn't too dark or troubling. I think we've had enough of that in popular culture. Alex Murphy is about creating a place for readers to forget their problems and just enjoy the ride. Kathy's cover achieves one image what it took me three hundred pages to express."

In an era of computer-generated images, the "Alex Murphy" cover stands out. Marshall painted the piece using acrylic and is reminiscent of the timeless book covers that generations of readers have loved. It combines a sense of light-hearted adventure with a dose of whimsy, setting the tone for the novel and the series.

The cover is Marshall's first foray in cover art though not her last. In addition to her new career as a cover artist, Marshall is an artist and actress, with roles on Broadway in "A Streetcar Named Desire", "The Night of the Iguana", "Footloose" and "Rumors." She has also traveled the country in the Tours of" Annie" and "Barnum. " Her favorite roles have been in her sister, Jeanne Marshall's plays "Rapture" and Little Beasts".

"Although I have painted lots of portraits of people and lots of bits and pieces of horses I had never tackled a flying Ram with a major personality. I very much wanted to offer Michelle an image that reflected what she had so beautifully written. When we found we were on the same page as to who Alex and Aries were inside I felt confident to let go and see who they became on canvas. Alex was inspired by the image of my eldest daughter Emma and so was easier to channel. Aries, well I was flying by the seat of my pants," Marshall said.

But interesting challenges are nothing new to Marshall. Life changed for Marshall and her family last year when she went from living in an apartment on the Upper Westside of Manhattan in New York City to a lake in the woods of Northwest New Jersey.

She now shares the woods and lake with bears, coyotes, eagles, swans, beavers, raccoons, foxes, along with a multitude of other creeping, crawling, slithering critters. Fortunately, she is an animal lover with three dogs, one rabbit, one cat and an aquatic frog of her own.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Michelle Cerone