Cover Stories: Dragonswood

Janet Lee Carey has been here before to talk about her cover for Stealing Death. Now she's back with a stunning new novel, Dragonswood. Here's her Cover Story:

"My cover ideas changed as I was writing Dragonswood. I often have a movie going in my head as I’m writing, so every once in a while I’d stop the movie to a still shot and think, 'Hey that would make a great cover.' Some images had to do with Tess’s fire-sight. I envisioned Tess staring into the fire entranced by the vision of a man swinging his sword, or of a fairy woman riding dragonback in the golden flames.

"I tossed a few ideas around with my editor, Kathy Dawson, at Dial Books for Young Readers. Along with the fire-sight images, we discussed a cover related to the early action scenes showing Tess and her friends’ escape from the witch hunter disguised as lepers. I pictured a bedraggled and muddy Tess dressed in a dark-hooded leper’s robe. Much later Kathy Dawson and I discussed the kind of medieval gown Tess would wear -- the colors, the fabric -- by then I realized we weren’t going with the fire-sight or the leper’s robe idea. I didn’t mind Tess wearing a gown since she does later in the book; still I remember asking, 'Will Tess have a knife in her hand?' Kathy paused a moment, then said, 'I think you will be surprised by the direction this cover is going in, Janet.'

"When I saw the cover, I was stunned by its beauty. I remember my hands began to tingle. It was so completely different from anything I’d had in mind, and at the same time, so surreal and gorgeous. I loved the contrast of light and dark, the iridescent title, the bright water and gown against the dark forest, looming clouds, and the surrounding dragon scales. The designers took a complete U turn from where I was going with the cover. They formed a fresh idea evoking the heart of the story that takes Tess from bondage to liberty. The leap on the cover expresses her triumph.

"We talked a bit about changing the gown color, but ended up going with the original white. Really I was so happy with what I saw; I didn’t want to mess with it.

"Have you ever had a flying dream? The Dragonswood cover reminds me of my favorite kind of flying dream where I’m dancing in the sky; doing pirouettes, leaps, and flips, moving fluidly using the pressure of the thermals around me. It’s a truly magical dream and I always wake up from it feeling joyful.

"The cover also helped me discover a concise description of the novel – something I often find frustratingly hard to do. After staring at the book in my hands a long while I thought. One Girl. Bound By Fate. Breaks Free. Those words show up in a number of places now and became integral to designing our Dragonswood Book Trailer. (By the way that’s my voice in the background and my husband strumming the Turkish saz.)"

Thanks, Janet! There has been a lot of talk about there being many Girls in Gowns on covers this year, but I think Dragonswood stands out with movement and a sense of purpose. Plus, the sweetness of the gown makes it seem lie more than pure show. Also, the scales on the edge of the book add a nice texture and evocation. Thoughts?