Cover Stories: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

Daisy Whitney shared the Cover Story for The Mockingbirds last year, and she's back with a new tale for her latest novel, When You Were Here (out in June!). By the way, Kelly J. at Stacked says this book is "so good it hurts to think about." Here's Daisy:

"When You Were Here has always been a tough book for me to imagine a cover for. That's because most of the book takes place in Tokyo, but the main character is very much an American teenager. It's also because the novel is about love, and loss, and grief, and joy and finding a sort of peace and happiness when you've been the one left behind, but it's also a romance between a boy and a girl. Given all that, I pictured cityscapes and neon lights and maybe a boy walking away from the reader...But that's sort of as far as I could picture a possible cover.

"I did share those thoughts with my editor and I also told her I wasn't fond of gray covers, that I didn't want a Tokyo vibe on the cover, and that I didn't want a sad or depressed looking boy on the cover. To be sure, my main character is sad at the start of the novel, but he's very much questing and yearning for happiness so I wanted the cover to convey some of the hopefulness of his journey.

"The cover here is the second version. The first version I wasn't wild about and I told my editor so. Without getting into the specifics, the first attempt felt too much like an adult novel for my tastes, and it also didn't have a person on the cover. I love photographic covers and faces, so when I offered some feedback on the first pass, I suggested a photographic cover, and sent along several stock photo options of teens that I felt came close to the vibe I wanted. My editor shared all the photos and my ideas with the design team, and they definitely took them to heart. So when I then saw this cover, I was happy! Because this cover says a lot now about the story - the boy is yearning, he's looking, he's not shying away from life or troubles. He seems a boy with a purpose, like my main character! I like the sun on his face, and the thoughtful, contemplative mood of the cover. And purple is my favorite color so I love the font.

"This cover is completely different from the first version, and this is much warmer and teen-centric and I think draws readers in, but also makes it clear that they'll be going on a complicated journey.

"I think it's a stock photo, and I'm really happy with this cover. Given that this isn't the easiest story to wrap up in a jacket, I think the design team did a great job. They are tireless and they tried many different directions, and I'm thrilled to be able to have an editor who values my input and who engages in an open dialogue about what's working and not working about covers. When I look at this cover now, I do feel as if this boy is my boy - as if he wants what my narrator wants, as if he's at that crucial crossroads in his life. This is a boy who's going to be a man of action, to seek answers, and who also is yearning and longing for so many things. And that's what the story is about. It's about a teenage boy and his journey through big love and big loss and his quest to find happiness in the here and now."

Thanks, Daisy! The emotions that this cover invokes are spot on for me. I love, love, love the sunlight behind him. So bittersweet. Can't wait to read.

What do you guys think?