Cover Stories: The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

RunawayKing- Jennifer A. Nielsen's bestselling series impressed me with its iconic cover style. Here's Jennifer to tell the story of how it was created: "We had the cover of Book 1 (The False Prince, below right), so I guessed that Scholastic would try to stick with the 'broken' theme, but since covers are the realm of the publisher, I don’t think much about them while I’m writing. Besides, I have the visual art abilities of a toothpick, so my instincts aren’t great for design.

false prince"I wasn’t asked about input for Book 1, but with Book 2 I got to see a rough draft and make suggestions to my editor. I know that one of Scholastic’s goals with this series is to create an image that was more iconic, something that didn’t look like any other book. And I think so far they’ve succeeded.

"I really love the emerald green with the silver text, and I think the sword on it is just wonderful. The sword reminds me of Narsil, the broken blade in Lord of the Rings. I think it’s going to look great next to that deep blue of Book 1.

"Book 1 went through several different versions – I think there was a lot of input throughout the company and they worked really hard to find a cover that met a wide approval. Book 2 has some slight variations from the original version, but nothing more than tweaking what was already really lovely art.

"The cover design was done by Chris Stengel, the same illustrator who also designed for Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver trilogy [read the Shiver Cover Story], and Ken Choi did the sword art. I feel indescribably fortunate to have both of them for artists.

"I love, love, love both of my covers! I think Book 1 does exactly what it should, which is to define itself as a medieval fantasy in which something has gone very wrong for the royals. The shattered crown is a wonderful symbol, and I think readers will come to appreciate its meaning.

"For The Runaway King, I think it’s wonderful that the broken image has been carried forward. Readers will find in Book 2 that Sage’s problems only get worse, and the cover definitely reinforces that."