A note from Headbuzzer: Enjoy this guest post from Melissa C. Walker's blog! Cover Stories is a regular feature where Melissa interviews authors about their book covers! We thought we'd share Robin Wasserman's story about The Waking Dark book cover!
Cover Stories: The Waking Dark
In a starred review, Booklist called Robin Wasserman’s latest novel “a horror story worthy of Stephen King… violent, edgy, well-written, and foreboding.” Eek! Might be too scary for me because I am a total ‘fraidy cat. But I love Robin’s writing, so… I’ll chance it. Robin’s also has a great Cover Story for The Waking Dark.
(Read on for how you can win a paperback copy of her previous novel, The Book of Blood and Shadow!)
There are some books—like my last novel, The Book of Blood and Shadow, that do their best to defy all attempts to match them with the perfect cover. Random House went through about a million concepts before settling on one we all loved, and then, when it came time for the paperback, went in a radically different direction all over again. (Which, for the record, I love even more.)
There are, inevitably, other books (and I’m not linking to anything here, so you’ll have to use your imagination) that end up with covers that never feel quite right, at least to those of us who wrote them. (Insert caveat here about how it’s probably a good thing that authors don’t get to choose their own covers, especially when they’re authors like me, who are artistically challenged and have no idea what makes for a pretty, much less commercially viable design.)
But every once in a while, if you’re lucky, there comes a book—or rather, some magical moment of alchemy between a book, a designer, an editor, and a marketing team—that hits it out of the park on the first try, seemingly without even trying. (Easy for me to say there’s no trying involved, when I’m not actually the one who has to glare at my computer until a cover design materializes.)
I think The Waking Dark is my best book, but more than that, I love it more than anything I’ve ever written. This book feels like a piece of me in a way that no other novel has. On top of that, it’s a dark, prickly, scary story that hopefully has the potential to appeal to a bunch of different kinds of readers, all of whom (I feared) could be easily alienated by the wrong cover.
All of which is to say that I was really nervous about what my publisher would decide to put on the front of this book.
As usual, my very kind editor welcomed me to send along any design thoughts I might have, even when we both know I’m hopelessly useless at this kind of thing. And, as usual, I swallowed my incompetence and sent along some images I’d collected that captured the feel I was hoping for:
I also offered this very helpful and specific advice:
"I would really love this cover to scream, ‘This book is not like all the others!’…in a completely non-alienating way. No tall order, right? :)
It was actually a very tall order, and I don’t know how they did it. But they did. (I figure it’s okay to brag about this cover, since I had not a single thing to do with the making of it.) This cover is, with a few design tweaks, the very first thing the designer came up with, which as far as I’m concerned means she’s a certifiable genius who should be given all the awards from now til perpetuity.
I’ve loved a lot of my book covers, but never before have I gotten a cover where I fell in love at very first sight, where I thought: YES. This is the cover this book was always destined to have. (Sort of like how we all felt when Alan Rickman showed up as Severus Snape.)
Then I opened an email from my editor, and found this:
This cover is the book. Everything that I hope The Waking Dark will be is encapsulated in this image. Or, as I wrote to my editor thirty seconds later,
“Immediate, knee jerk reaction? I LOVE #1. LOVE IT!!!!! That is so in keeping with what I was hoping for that I can’t quite believe it. Beautiful, sophisticated, creepy."
I can’t help but notice what I neglected to say in that email: thank you. So let me say it now, for all the world to see. THANK YOU, to everyone at Random House, but especially the brilliant designer Kate Gartner, for somehow managing to translate my amorphous imagination into something beautiful.
Thank you, Robin! I’m already creeped out. If I get a hard copy I’m going to have to turn it over… wonder what the back looks like. Ack. So yes, it does what it’s supposed to!
Melissa C. Walker is hosting a giveaway on her blog for a signed copy of The Book of Blood and Shadow! The giveaway ends in four days so hurry on over and enter!
This post was originally published on MelissaCWalker.com on September 9th 2013.