Cover Stories: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

IG hardcover Nova Ren Suma was here last week talking about her cover and title changes for Dani Noir/Fade Out. This week she's back to discuss the cover that made her cry: Imaginary Girls. "Discovering what the cover of a book will be is always a magical moment—and one that, every single time, has revealed itself to be something I didn’t expect. Maybe it’s because I don’t let myself think too much in detail about what the cover should be when I’m writing. I don’t like to picture the cover—I leave that for the people at my publishing house. I like to keep an open space in my mind for where the cover will be, once my editor sends it to me. I like to be surprised.

"I thought that the covers for Dani Noir and Fade Out both captured different feelings the story was trying to portray, and I count myself as lucky to have had both editions published. But there’s only one cover in my short history as an author that felt like someone had slipped into my secret fantasies and awarded me the thing I didn’t even know to ask for.

"Here it is, the cover that made me burst into breathless, happy tears (left).

"Imaginary Girls was my second published book, but my debut YA novel. It’s the story of two sisters, their strong bond, and the dead body that threatens to break it—and the story begins at the local reservoir, when the younger sister, Chloe, is dared to swim across the water by her older sister, Ruby, in the middle of the night, and something shocking stops Chloe before she makes it across.

underwater_elena_kalis06"The image that graced the hardcover edition of the book is a photograph by Elana Kalis, whose underwater photography is the stuff of legend. Truly—the images are so beautiful, I don’t even know how to contain myself. Here is the original image before it became my cover (right). And here is the exhilarated blog post I wrote when I first revealed this cover to the world.

"I really did cry when I first saw the cover. It was more beautiful than I’d ever imagined a cover for anything I wrote could be, and I felt like the image spoke to the voice of the novel, to the feeling I wanted to portray, even if it wasn’t a literal interpretation of Chloe swimming the murky reservoir in the deep night.

"Sometimes an author’s wildest cover dreams come true.

"…And dreams that come true don’t always last forever.

The New Face of Imaginary Girls

"Because when it came time to publish Imaginary Girls in paperback, I was told that this would involve a cover change.

9780142420904_ImaginaryGirls_CV-sales2.indd"The paperback version of the Imaginary Girls cover is quite literal. The water is dark, as the reservoir at night would be. The girl’s eyes are green, as they would be. And there’s even the rowboat with the hand reaching out of it, just as Chloe found when she was trying to swim across. I also really like how pointed the back copy is:

“Ruby said I’d never drown. I didn’t. But someone else did.”

[Full jacket below.]

IG paperback front and back

"Privately, behind closed doors, people have asked me how I could let this happen. Why change the perfect cover? But I’m sure many of you reading this post know that most authors don’t make these decisions. I have no idea what makes a book sell and what cover would draw in the right kind of reader. I do know that since the paperback of Imaginary Girls has come out in the summer of 2012, it seems that more readers have found the book, and this is what any author would hope for. Maybe the new cover tells a reader more of what to expect from this story. Either way, I feel like two sides of the book have been revealed by these covers, like it’s a story with two faces.

"And as I tell any passionate fan of the original version of Imaginary Girls, if you love the first cover as much as I do, you can still order the hardcover."

Thanks, Nova! I actually think you have hit the cover jackpot again and again. While the hardcover of Imaginary Girls remains top in my heart (who can get over such beauty?), your other covers are all lovely and evocative.

What do you guys think? Favorites?