The Internal Ashes

In the Autumn of 2018 I took a book design class at Emerson College. As the final assignment for the class, I compiled and designed The Internal Ashes, a collection of my own original short stories. The project drew from all of the design skills I learned throughout the class, culminating in a high-quality, original printed work. I served every role of the publishing process for this project — as the author, commissioning editor, substantive and copy-editor, cover and interior designer, typesetter, and producer. I also invented a publishing company and designed its own logo. Though The Internal Ashes is not officially published, creating this book was a comprehensive experience of the publishing process from beginning to end, and I strove to create a final product of professional and publishable quality.

The Internal Ashes front and back cover

For the front and back cover spread, I selected a photograph of a dark, vacant subway stop to evoke the mysterious, atmospheric tone that my selected stories share. The subway is also a recurring symbol throughout several of the stories, a common thread whose representation on the cover was important. Using Photoshop, I erased the name of the subway stop on the sign and replaced it with the book’s title. I kept the horizontal line at the top of the sign, and it became a simple yet elegant accent that I echoed throughout the interior, for the chapter titles and running heads, as seen in this interior spread:

The Internal Ashes, page 34
The Internal Ashes, page 35

For the display text on both the cover and interior, I selected a modern, sans-serif typeface, which counteracts the serif one I used for the body text. This helps the reader to more easily differentiate the various elements on the page. I used the same sans-serif typeface for the drop-caps as well, providing consistency and cohesion to the design as a whole. I chose a serif typeface for the body text because serif tends to be more easily readable and less distracting. I used the same design elements for the front and back matter, as seen in my contents page and my author bio page:

The Internal Ashes contents page
The Internal Ashes author bio page

Included in this collection are my stories “Dark Matter,” “Upon Churned Earth,” and “The Diner,” which were published individually by some of Emerson College’s literary magazines between 2016 and 2018. These stories can be viewed here. I hope to one day officially publish the complete collection — through a real publishing company instead of the “Fictional Press” I invented.