If you’re acquainted with the Power of Zero series, you will know that Jack Horwood’s brain runs on coffee. Black, fiendishly strong coffee. And that he only ruins it with sugar when he’s too busy to eat.
Jack has really very little time for latte art, while I’m a rather different case there. When I’m in need of a break – and a coffee – I often find myself looking at gorgeous photos of coffee art, and shortly thereafter at pictures of assorted cakes and pastries. Which then tends to lead to recipe research and a trek into the kitchen.
Food blogging really can be hazardous to your health and not so good for my fiction writing schedule either. What it is good for, though, is inspiration. And when coffee inspires art, then the inspiration just doesn’t stop.
If you need proof, just count the number of coffee shop stories on amazon, or the even greater number on fanfiction site AO3… you’ll be persuaded in no time at all that coffee is a magical brew.
One of my biggests guilty pleasures of the moment – and both relaxation and inspiration – is the Coffeetopia account on Instagram. Artist Ghidaq al-Nizar creates the most amazing images from little more than coffeegrounds, ink made from coffee and items he collects, like fallen leaves.
His designs are magical. They breed plot bunnies every time I catch sight of one. Often for stories I wouldn’t usually consider reading, let alone writing. Lost loves, fateful voyages, kittens afraid of monsters, fairies, the invasion of the coffee spiders, music that takes on a life of its own… I could spend days making up adventures. For now, though, I have this…
I readily admit that I’m graphically challenged and I usually feel profoundly sorry for the cover designers at Dreamspinner Press when I hand in my cover design forms. Even when I have an idea for a cover, I struggle to describe it in a way that makes sense to anyone else.
But I’ve always known what I wanted the cover for Swings & Roundabouts, the fourth Jack & Gareth book, to look like. And it’s not a million miles different from this Coffeetopia design.
I almost choked up when I saw this image, even though I’ve written the scene it reminds me of almost two years ago. I suddenly remembered why I wanted to write Jack’s story and the coffee association just made it perfect. Proof, if proof were needed that coffee inspires art.
I would happily buy this painting to hang over my desk, to inspire me to sit down and finish Swings. I’d just ask the artist for one little adjustment: I’d love to have both Jack & Gareth standing under a sky blazing with Northern Lights. Because after all this time, they’ve come this far.