Cover Stories: The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst

Sarah Beth Durst always has great covers (and stories) to share—just look back on her covers for Vessel, Ice and Drink, Slay, Love. Her latest is The Lost, and Sarah's here to tell the tale of that lovely cover (and Harlequin's cool process!):

"Harlequin has a wonderfully organized approach to covers.  Here's how it works:

"For each book, the author fills out an Art Fact Sheet within an online database. You need to describe the novel and its setting, plus describe 3 or 4 major characters and 3 or 4 important scenes that might lend themselves to a cover image. You're encouraged to send along images of people who resemble your characters and places that inspired you.

"I loved this process. I've never really played the who-would-I-cast game with my characters before, and it was so much fun. For my book The Lost, I picked Amanda Seyfried for Lauren -- she's my protagonist, a 27-year-old woman who gets into her car one day to drive to her dead-end job and instead of turning left at the light, goes straight and keeps driving until she runs out of gas in a town called Lost.  Lost is filled with only lost things and lost people and is surrounded by an impenetrable dust storm.  She's helped by a mysterious man called the Finder and a knife-wielding six-year-old girl named Claire.

"For the Finder, Peter, I chose a cross between Johnny Depp, Jason Momoa, and Alex Meraz.  And for Claire, I pictured a six-year-old Elle Fanning.

"I also described the town of Lost in detail: it's a rundown desert town with a kitschy diner, a dilapidated motel, an old-fashioned motel, and a single red balloon that always seems to float overhead.

"My editor then reviewed my Art Fact Sheet and sent it and the manuscript on to the art department.  I picture this as a magical place with lots of wind chimes, incense, and frolicking unicorns that deliver coffee mugs full of inspiration to each artist. 

"In reality, the artists probably have desks and computers and such, but I'm going to continue imagining coffee-bearing unicorns, if you don't mind.

"Anyway, a few months later, the cover arrived (via unicorn) in my Inbox.

"And I think the result is pure art.  It is nothing like I imagined, yet it captures the book so absolutely beautifully. The novel is magical realism, and it's written in a highly atmospheric, impressionistic, eerie style, which the cover shows. In terms of content, the town with the single balloon overhead is perfect, and the brush strokes reflect Lauren's dream of being an artist. On the finished book, the paint strokes are raised so that it looks as if paint has dripped onto the letters of the title. I keep petting it.

"There's something magical in having a cover that reflects the feel what you hoped to put inside.

"Thanks so much for inviting me here to share The Lost's cover art!"