Archive for May, 2013

books on the inside: the literary slap |

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Can I let you in on a little secret? Okay, it’s not really a secret, as I’ve mentioned it here before, but I have a bit of an obsession with the Literary Slap. And even though I love talking about the outsides of books, I thought I might be nice to insert a little bit of what I like on the insides of books.

Over the past two years, I’ve been collecting photos of the Literary Slap. I don’t know what it is about this expression, but I love it. (Side note: I am not a violent, slap-happy person.) See if you can guess which books these below passages come from. I would reward you with a prize except I only remember know two of them — aside from the blatantly obvious one.








What about you? Are there any literary phrases or expressions you can’t get enough of? Or any that you wish could be banished from the English language?

cover love: the end games |

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Wow, it’s been a really long time since I spread some serious cover love here. This is about to be remedied.

Because not only do I have some cover love for you, but I’m happy to announce that the aforementioned cover love revolves around some brotherly love, too!

And that’s a lot of love.


Ahh. I remember like it was yesterday. (Actually, more like a few days ago because that’s when it actually happened.) I was trying to catch up on two months of blog-reading, and I happened upon Lenore Appelhans’ Cover Story for T. Michael Martin’s The End Games. My first thought about its artwork was: “Whoa.” And then: “Hmmm…reminds me a little of Big Fish, sprinkled in with some illustration from A Monster Calls, and maybe with a healthy serving of that scary nervousness that the Chaos Walking series evokes.” And then my third thought, selfishly: “Oh please be a YA cover so I can rave about it on my own blog, too.”

I have several other thoughts about it as well.

You see, it’s covers like these that just make me want to high five everyone who was involved in its process — from the author’s story behind that image to the editor’s input to the publisher for believing it doesn’t have to fit within a certain mold, and certainly to its designer (Jon Smith). Yes, I’d like to high five this team that brought it to life and proclaimed that its artwork deserved to tell its own unique story, the one that welcomes a reader to discover the words underneath its jacket and at its heart.

I’ve missed waxing poetic about great YA cover art.

I’ll throw more words out there about how I love the balance between each distinct level of space that’s on display — from Martin’s name at the top, to the spindly title that stretches across, front and center. I love the fact that the artwork utilizes every bit of space to amplify the scope of our young protagonists’ environment, their shadows stretching before the daunting red hell that awaits them.

Here’s the jacket copy, pulled from Mike Martin’s blog:

It happened on Halloween. 

The world ended. 

And a dangerous Game brought it back to life.

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.

The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.

I’m not sure about you, but I’m a big fan of “brothers” stories. In fact, last Friday night I watched over two hours of one of the best brothers stories I’ve ever seen in my life, Warrior. I’d include a GIF of a scene from the movie but everything seemed pretty spoilery, so I guess the next best thing is to show you Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton shirtless the poster:


If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know what I mean when I say this is a brothers story. It’s about the mess of life you go through to survive, the circumstances you can and cannot control, and I felt like every single relationship in this movie was genuinely real and raw. It even made me cry ugly tears (twice), which doesn’t happen very often.

After reading Martin’s inspiration for writing his novel, I have a feeling it’s going to be the same with The End Games. Hurry up, May 2013. And bring on the ugly tears.

cover love: “girls underwater” |

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In any visual medium, it’s extremely difficult to not compare trends — to avoid comparing them is simply unhealthy. Our eyes tend to view and take notice of how ideas and concepts are different, similar, unique, attention-grabbing, and just…same ol’ same ol’.

Unfortunately, such is the case of the Pretty Dress/Sad Girl on a Paranormal Cover. If you’ve read any sort of paranormal YA, you know exactly what I’m talking about, and visual aids are entirely unnecessary.

During mid-November of last year, I saw my first “girls underwater” cover that made me pause what I was doing at work, and really examine it for awhile. I had one of those squint-your-eyes, tilt your head, and say “Ohhh” kind of moments.


As Nova Ren Suma’s second novel and first YA, I’m sure she’s pretty proud of her experience with knockout covers. (Her MG novel, Dani Noir, is awesome as well) Imaginary Girls’ cover art captures a small mixture of emotional tones, but the first that hits me is sadness. It’s the kind of cover that makes you hold your breath a little, but its artistry gives you enough relief to take a moment to understand how beautiful it is.

The cover art comes from the collaboration of two talented individuals, underwater photographer Elena Kalis and Penguin art director Linda McCarthy. What you see here is a subtle take on reality — a redheaded, red-ribboned girl who appears to be floating downward in the water. It’s poetic and serene. Rotate 90º counter-clockwise and you have a girl who’s floating gently to the surface. A different image altogether with a slightly different tone.

The red-on-white, punchy blue, and floating white tagline come together to create quite an intriguing cover. And you know I’m an absolute sucker for all caps/all lowercase.

Speaking of all lowercase.

hodkin_tuomd-9910586I’ll admit that seeing The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer’s cover several weeks after Imaginary Girls made me pause, but mostly for the wrong reasons. (Remember that trend thing?)

But that’s precisely when I decided to change my mind. Both Mara and Imaginary Girls accomplish a lot of visual storytelling at first glance. The tone of Mara may be darker, murkier, and far more romantic, but both covers leave me equally intrigued. (And I can’t wait to see what the finished prints look like!) Both covers are manipulative in the sense that you want to believe the story at (pretty) face value — but behind each face you hope there will be arresting revelations that will pull you in much deeper than their covers.

Pun totally intended.

cover love: freaked |

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An interesting blurb from author J.T. Dutton’s Freaked wraps up its summary in a curious way: “A joyous tale of a teen Dead Head.”


It goes without saying that Freaked’s cover is very different from most YA contemporary novels’ covers. I’m such a sucker for titles in uppercase type that work with the cover’s design and not against it. The broken dissolving letters and vibrant splash of colors work beautifully together to create this sort of catastrophic effect, complemented by the impact of its title. The cover looks like a suspended moment that’s on the forefront of a disaster.

Lately I’ve noticed more and more titles that are rotated clockwise 90 degrees. I think with Freaked’s cover it works, but others walk a fine line between being unique and being distracting, like The Demon King. (another very gorgeous cover)


Interestingly enough, Freaked’s title is rotated in a way that if I was searching along book spines in a bookstore, I wouldn’t have to readjust to read its title, either (whereas The Demon King is rotated in the opposite direction). I’m not sure if this was the cover designer’s intention or not, but it’s certainly convenient.

Freaked’s cover impresses me in a way that I want to find out what’s so broken about Scotty, the novel’s drug-abusing protagonist with 99 problems. I can only assume that being Freaked is one of them.

behind the design: kristin smith & five flavors of dumb |

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Three cheers for Kristin Smith, Penguin’s creative energy behind Five Flavors of Dumb’s cover design. She was kind enough to let me harass her with endless cover-related questions. For my first official interview with a designer on the blog, Kristin knocked it out of the park.

What were your initial ideas for the cover? Do you have some initial illustrations/ideas/mockups that you can share?

I knew right from the start after reading DUMB, that I wanted to show the cover as a split-world image. I also knew that there had to be a focus on the band/music/grunge feeling, but that Piper needed to be the main focus as the manager (center of the band). So, in my head, I started to play with the ideas of foreground, middle ground and background in order to show the importance of the images.


Having a pretty clear idea from the very beginning, I developed the 1st tight comp (pictured above). The overall type design was being still thought out, but this was my first “photo sketch” to show my ideas.

What was the design process once you got a solid working draft for Dumb? What were the parts that kept getting tweaked? Choice of font? Color scheme? Photos?

While working on this cover I did a lot of brainstorming at first, rather than creating a bunch of photoshopped comps. This isn’t my typical design process, usually I think out my ideas by developing a lot of comps, and playing with different concepts. But, I had a pretty clear concept in mind, and decided to take a chance by building the idea into a tight cover, and only showing the one comp to my Art Director, Editor and Publisher. Once I found the stock photo of “Piper” after days of photo-researching, I immediately had my Aha! Moment. I completely loved everything about the girl, her clothes, and her stance…and knew exactly what to do.


Because Grunge/Rock music was a big part of the story, I wanted to get the Grunge feel and texture worked into the cover…which led to the wall of ripped concert posters. I really wanted to show the gritty music scene, and the type of venues that rock bands play in. I wanted to look at the cover as if you’re on the outside of the club, you read the Title, and then you are led into the concert. Piper is right there dead center, sort of the guardian/protector of the band. I felt the best way to show that she is a manager or “with” the band, was to have her be cool, confident and a little tough. I wanted her to be looking right at the reader while the concert is going on, and everyone in the crowd is paying attention to the band.

I also didn’t want to work out a concept that would call attention to the fact that she is deaf…because there is so much more to Piper’s character than that. I didn’t want people to think that the story was just about a deaf girl. I did however want her to be removed from the band and music in some way to play with the idea of her being deaf, so I like that she almost looks like she doesn’t know what is happening behind her…even though there is a band playing and a large screaming crowd. There is a lot of energy behind her but she’s so still and removed from everyone. The photo of the girl isn’t exactly how I initially imagined Piper, but I think she represents her in a good way. Kind of showing how she is on the inside, and how she grows as a person.


You can see from the photo-sketch comp that the lower half was still very rough and needed to be thought out more. I had A LOT of photos with the rough wall/poster texture. I kept placing them into my file, rotating them, and looking at them from all interesting angles. This took a while, but I finally found the right one that had the right amount of color, and enough grit.


The color scheme of the concert lights was shifted a lot to have the right balance, and enough depth of color. Also after a lot of photo researching, I added the band in on the right of the concert after the 1st comp, and had to play with the right size and position so that it would have the right perspective. Finally, I really like the font for the title, but I tweaked the type a lot playing with different sizes and emphasis on the word DUMB so that it would stand out and make the Title look more like a stamp.

Did you have a photographer/model that provided the photo, or did you work with stock?

The cover was created by using all Stock Photography. The photos came from many sources, and I pieced them all together. Once the cover was complete, I ended up using about 8 photos to achieve the Final cover image. I used most of the photos to create the textures and backgrounds so that there would be depth, and not look too pasted together or flat. The photo of the girl is from Getty Images, and the photographer is Eric Van Den Brulle.

Did you have a say in the final print, the feel of its texture?

Yes, all of the designers in our group have to think about how the book will finally be printed. We get to think of all the special effects: Foil stamping, embossing, debossing, Matte Lamination, Gloss Lamination, Spot Lamination, Paperstock….just to name a few. We see what we can work with within the budget for the book, and then we can decide what would make our cover image and type design look it’s best. Thinking out the Final Printing of a book, is a huge part of book design. Once the image came together, I knew that it had to be printed with a Grit Matte Lamination for added texture, then I chose to have the title debossed with Spot Lamination on it…I wanted it to look like it was stamped on the book/wall.

What were the easiest parts of the design/process? The hardest?

The easiest part would have to be that everyone decided to go with the 1 comp image that I designed. Normally this can be a grueling process where you design comp after comp, and then getting everyone to agree on a concept, or if it’s the right direction for it’s market and readership. Once I knew the direction and concept was approved, I was free to play with the imagery and get everything to balance out and look right for the Final approval.

The hardest part would be working with mulitiple photos for the Foreground/Middleground/Background perspective and have it all look ok and blended together. I wasn’t setting out to create a realistic world that Piper could live in, I wanted it to be faked and graphic, but I also wanted the 3 parts to work well together. I guess the hardest part of that was convincing the viewer that she should be squatting in that spot, and having her look grounded at the same time. Fading the poster wall, into the floor for her to squat on and have it look just right was pretty tricky.


Can you please give a brief history of your career as a designer?

I’ve been working as a Children’s Book Designer since 2000. I graduated from SUNY New Paltz in 2000, and had a summer internship with MTV in New York City. I had been applying to many different types of design positions, but really wanted to design Children’s books. I got very lucky and got a position as a design assistant at Simon & Schuster working on picture books, and started the September after my internship. I worked there for over 4 years, and had the chance to work with so many wonderful and amazing illustrators.

I mainly worked on the picture books, but started to help out one of my Art Directors on some of the novels for young readers. I really became interested in designing Novel covers, and really wanted to start working in that area of Children’s Book Design. I love being able to read a book, and develop a concept or single image that represents the whole story. So, I ended up moving over to Pengiun Books, and got a position as a designer for Young Readers Novels. I’ve been working at Penguin in the Puffin/Young Readers Design Group for over 5 years, and am now a Senior Designer.

Thanks again for the in-depth look at Dumb’s cover, Kristin! Most of all, thanks for designing it in the first place and letting me geek out over it. icon_wink-6745856

cover love: jack samsonite |

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Alert, alert! Today’s giant cover love hug is not actually being given to a novel by the name of Jack Samsonite. The title’s a bit longer that.

Actually, a lot longer than that.


You can see my logic in shortening the title in this post’s title, yes?

When it comes to browsing cover art in the wild (not just YA), my brain tends to sort each novel’s face into three different categories:

  1. Awesome: Proceed to oohing and ahhing. Take a picture. Pick it up and hold it. Read to find out more.
  2. Apathy: Is the title familiar? Have I read a review about it? The cover may not evoke enthusiasm, but at least it doesn’t make my eyes bleed.
  3. AUGH: Run, run away quickly! (or: snap a pic for What Were YA Thinkin? safekeeping)

And while my mental sorting probably takes around .0234 seconds to compute, I honestly wonder about others’ reactions towards Jack Samsonite’s cover. I’d imagine you’d fall in one or two camps — you love it or you meh it. Today’s post is a cover love post, so you know exactly which camp I fall in.

I’m a typographic nerd. A fontaholic. Call it what you will, but nothing makes me more squeamish than seeing a cover reveal for a highly-anticipated YA novel only to find out that they picked the same font I used when designing a custom Xanga button back in 2002. What I really love about Jack Samsonite’s cover is its long stream-of-consciousness title. The illustration looks like an idea that started out as an easygoing outline and grew into a furious scribbling of extraneous doodles. Another set of eyeballs may call it a little bit too juvenile. My set of eyeballs calls this a charismatic cover. There’s something magnetic about art that purposefully looks homemade (in a good way). Yes, there’s something appealing about matching the perfect font family to create a specific tone within cover design. But there’s also something that can be said about a title’s type treatment that doesn’t seem to focus on kerning or ligature.

jack_samsonite_cs4-indd-2After initially ogling the cover over on The Crooked Bookshelf’s blog, I hopped over to author Tom Clempson’s website to see if I could cyberstalk discover who the cover designer was. One short Twitter conversation later, I was on my way to digging up as much information as I could about Jack Samsonite’s cover designer, Tom Sanderson.

Here’s a dish of some other design work Sanderson’s cooked up:


Seems like I’m not the only one who’s kind of a typographic geek, eh?

My absolute favorite cover he’s done so far (or at least from what I’ve seen on his portfolio) is this:


It’s a book cover full of book covers! And it’s not all composited. It is an actual photograph of book covers. You can only imagine my sheer abundance of joy multiplied exponentially, right? James Morrison blogs over on Caustic Cover Critic about Puffin By Design’s cover art and even includes a photograph of Anderson at work aligning the books around the title.

Bravo, Tom! Oh, and yes, I mean both Toms. I’m looking forward to more of Tom’s (Sanderson) design work and can’t wait to get my hands on Tom’s (Clempson) One Seriously Messed-Up Week: in the Otherwise Mundane and Uneventful Life of Jack Samsonite.

cover love: the promises of dr. sigmundus series |

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For one of my what were YA thinkin? posts, I mentioned that frightening covers scare the ever-loving crap out of me. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean I avoid eerie things altogether. I can still appreciate a beautiful cover and be slightly creeped out at the same time.

Take, for example, Brian Keaney’s The Hollow People:


I have a soft spot for a beautifully illustrated covers, and The Hollow People certainly falls  into this category. Its lack of color, the swirling mist, and bright moon against the dark tower create a gnawing feeling of dread, a chilling sense of uneasiness. Its title, almost scrawled like a signature, sits in the black void of the design not to overpower the rest of the handcrafted illustration, but to dot it like an i.

Following suit in The Hollow People’s bewitching cover come its successors in The Promises of Dr. Sigmundus series: The Cracked Mirror and The Resurrection Fields.


All three cover designs were crafted by the awesome illustrator Nicoletta Ceccoli, who designed both the US and UK covers (US covers are featured in this post). Her work is absolutely gorgeous, haunting and enchanting.

caps |

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Before I go into cover-lovin’ mode, I need to give a huge shout-out and thank you to two lovely people, Risa who designed my logo/header/background for the new digs, as well as my friend Patch for coming up with a snazzy new tagline. In regards to the logo, I love that little book-face so much … Continue reading »


Another caps-happy, simple red cover stopped me in my tracks again. Imagine that. It could be the cover’s use of negative space. Or perhaps that loud cluster of colors I heard from clear across the room. Actually, it was those two attributes joined by that doozy of a title that made me hone in on … Continue reading »


There are times when I’ve been to a gallery or art museum and I’ll stare at a piece of artwork that clears my head of all assumption. I’m just standing there, slack-jawed, leaning ever-so-slightly in to the point where I stumble just a little. I’m not just looking. I’m gawking. Whether it’s an overwhelming feeling … Continue reading »


So, let’s briefly discuss my tiny fascination with ZOMBIES. Yes, you read that right. I’m an eclectic girl with eclectic tastes, and zombies happen to be one of my interests, especially after watching Shawn of the Dead and the first season of The Walking Dead. Speaking of which, WHEN IS SEASON 2 PREMIERING? I just spent … Continue reading »


I wonder about a variety of issues when it comes to marketing in the publishing industry. As someone who often works alongside ad agencies, I’d like to think that I can empathize with some of their woes — the red tape, the endless amount of revisions, the neutering of the artistic soul, properly defining an … Continue reading »


As I’ve mentioned before, I believe that cover art is similar to a type of bait — art directors and marketing teams hope that it’ll hook you. But in some special cases, you don’t have to know anything about the novel’s subject matter. The cover itself simply makes you want to know more. This same … Continue reading »


When you think about silhouettes in art and design, what’s the first image that pops into your head? Is it an 18th century portrait? A movie poster? (And is it the Scarface poster — that’s what comes to my mind at least) Are silhouettes too dull and uninteresting? Are they copouts to creating a multidimensional … Continue reading »


Problem: Apparently I’ve yet to share my love of musical instruments on covers. Solution: I think I can remedy that with some cover art eye candy — namely Cecil Castelluci’s paperback cover for Beige. You may or may not have seen a few prior posts on pink covers here and here and here. (Oh…and here) I’m … Continue reading »


In any visual medium, it’s extremely difficult to not compare trends — to avoid comparing them is simply unhealthy. Our eyes tend to view and take notice of how ideas and concepts are different, similar, unique, attention-grabbing, and just…same ol’ same ol’. Unfortunately, such is the case of the Pretty Dress/Sad Girl on a Paranormal … Continue reading »


A few weeks ago I Cover Love’d Kelly Oram’s Being Jamie Baker cover, and I’ve gotta admit that part of the reason why I loved the cover was because I knew it was about a superhero(ine). I mean, really, who doesn’t love superhero stories? They are extra-heroic! Cue Perry Moore’s hardcover and paperback covers for his … Continue reading »

cover love: edges |

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Another beautiful piece of cover art crossed my path a few weeks ago as I was browsing Goodreads. The face of Léna Roy’s Edges grabbed my attention immediately. It wasn’t the giant title, it was the character piece that was painted beneath it.


All of the things I absolutely love about this cover can be solely attributed to everything aside from the title. My main gripe isn’t the choice of font — it’s the largeness of the title itself. It’s overbearing in its relationship to what the other elements of the cover are attempting to convey.

The rest of the cover is stunningly beautiful. I would love to assume that Léna has written a masterfully-crafted character piece just by looking at its artwork. If this was the plan, the cover designer has definitely achieved his or her goal. I love that this cover attempts to transplant you into Moab visually, not completely robbing the novel of its chance to take you there with its words, but whetting your appetite for its beautiful landscape from the start.


Moab, Utah (c) All rights reserved by jamecl99


I think my favorite aspect of this cover is its color palette and how it directly relates to Edges’ tone. The greens, burnt reds, and dark contrasts set a dark mood and serious tone, but the beautiful scenery and contemplative stances of Ava and Luke give me a hint of hopefulness of an evolutionary story.

Simply put, Edges’ cover speaks to me of both beautiful and dark things about the human condition. It doesn’t seem accidental that Ava and Luke’s story would occur in a breathtaking backdrop marked by thousands of years of gradual erosion. Then again, I could just be reading a bit much into its cover. icon_wink-8902808

authorthoughts: antony john & five flavors of dumb |

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Yesterday I got a chance to gush a little about my love for Antony John’s Five Flavors of Dumb cover. Earlier this month as I was browsing Penguin’s site, I immediately took note of Dumb and went straight to Antony’s website and blog. I was happy to find a blog post on his reaction to the cover as well. Thanks so much for the interview, Antony!


What was your very first reaction when you saw this cover? Did an expletive fall out of your mouth? Tears? A girly scream?

Truly, my first response was an ecstatic OMG THAT IS FREAKIN’ AMAZING. My editor, Liz Waniewski, told me to keep the design under wraps (this was back in November 2009), but really, how do you keep a cover like that under wraps? So, I immediately forwarded it to my wife who called me about seven seconds later to say something along the lines of . . . well, OMG!!!

You’ve said before that you had no artistic input on the cover. Is there an extensive physical description of what Piper looks like in the novel? Is this how you envisioned Piper to look? Were you surprised in any way?

I had no artistic input on the cover, and that’s how I wanted it. I know nothing about cover design, other than that “I know what I like,” so I was pleased to be able to stay out of at least ONE aspect of the publication process. Yes, there is enough physical description of Piper to give the reader an accurate portrait. Does the girl on the cover look EXACTLY as I had imagined? No, but she is perfect all the same. Like you (it seems), I actually have a preference for covers that don’t show faces, but in this case, the hair and sunglasses obscure so much of her face that there is no jarring with the way I describe Piper in the book.


What I especially like is the girl’s pose and her attitude. Piper is often obstinate and defiant, but she needs to be to overcome what is thrown at her in the course of the book. I think the girl on the cover conveys that spirit perfectly. Oh, and everybody keeps writing to me to say that they love her boots.

(I concur, the boots are awesome)

This might just be my ignorance, but I have no idea whether designers even get to read the book before designing a cover. So please excuse this if it’s a dumb (hehe) question! Did Kristin get to read it before designing?

Yes, she did. In fact, it seems as though almost everyone at Penguin Books has read it, which is both very gratifying and possibly unusual. My understanding (from what other authors have told me) is that cover designers sometimes have to work from an excerpt and a synopsis. I can’t say whether this is totally accurate, though.


As your second novel, how do you feel Dumb’s cover compares to Busted’s cover? Do you feel as though one cover more accurately represents one novel versus the other?

I love both covers. I thought the cover for BUSTED did an exceptional job of conveying the spirit of the novel. Really, that cover tells you just about all you need to know about the book. What I especially like about the cover for DUMB is how attention grabbing it is. A lot of teen bloggers have made the same comment–it looks like a movie poster–and I think they’re spot on. And how many authors get to have a movie poster on the front of their book?

My favorite part of the novel is the photo. The color scheme, the kind-of weird pose. I can’t tell if she’s trying to “listen” to the band by feeling the earth or what. There can be a few interpretations. What’s your favorite part of the cover?

Um, I actually have three favorite parts:

1. There are two distinct halves to the cover, but Kristin blends them so seamlessly that you’re unaware of this. I think that’s an impossibly clever sleight-of-hand, and I wouldn’t know how to go about achieving that kind of effect. Maybe it’s something to do with the way her boots rest at a slightly lower level than the seam. Anyway, she’d be able to explain it better than me!

2. I love that she chose to emphasize the word DUMB. (That was completely her idea, by the way, but coincidentally, my editor and I had already started to call the book DUMB in our correspondence.) Not just that, but the treatment of the word is fantastic: those discordant, uneven letters; and graffiti-like, daubed-on red paint. How do you see this on a shelf and not pick it up?

3. Like you, I love the photo, too. I love the way Piper isn’t a part of the band behind her, but seems to be in control anyway. And the brightly colored stage lights just work so well against her no-nonsense, gray-and-black outfit. By the way, her T-shirt has what looks like a USA flag on the front and a UK flag on the back; if so, that’s a pretty cool coincidence (me being English but living in the US).


As an author, what do you think is the most important message that a cover should relay? Should it be succinct to the novel’s message? Should it be pretty? Should it just catch someone’s attention, no matter what it looks like?

As much as I hate to admit it, when I’m browsing the shelves of my local bookstores, I AM drawn to covers I like. So the first thing I’d say a cover ought to attempt to do is grab the person browsing. However, if I pick a book up, I then invariably read the flap copy, so ideally the cover will also tie-in neatly to the tone and subject of the text. If it doesn’t, everything feels off-kilter. Finally, I’d say that you can always tell when a cover designer had a vision and really allowed it to evolve. I see too many covers with just a girl’s face, and they seem generic and uninspiring. By contrast, a cover like DUMB was very definitely conceived and developed, and is all the stronger for it. It’s just my good fortune that it happens to be my book!

Antony was kind to send me a paperback ARC of Dumb. I’ll definitely be purchasing this book when it’s released – it will be in hardback with a sandpaper feel and glossy debossing (woo, texture!). Also, after reading the novel, I have to say it’s very hard to not stare at the cover and really believe you’re looking at Piper Vaughan. She’s as layered as the book’s cover design is.

Tune in tomorrow for my interview with Penguin’s book designer Kristin Smith – the brains behind Dumb’s cover art.