Cover Stories: Crushed by Laura McNeal and Tom McNeal

Last day for the Big Contest! I'll accept entries until tomorrow morning. Yay!A myspace friend of mine, Kimmy, specifically requested the cover story behind Laura and Tom McNeal's Crushed. I haven't yet read the book, but her questions about the cover made me curious to hear the back story. 411sOGU-PLL._SS500_.jpg Laura writes: "We didn't have an image in mind while writing the book because, for one thing, the titles tend to change. The working title of Crushed was Wicked, which as you may have noticed became the working title for another book before we went to press. Once we agreed on Crushed (after lots of discussion with our wonderful editor), it was hard to think of a cover that didn't involve a crushed automobile, which is why we're always so impressed with the art department at Random House. The art directors there have in every case produced an image that is subtly reflective of the story and interesting in its own right. The sideways portrait on the front of Crushed suggests both the 'three little maids from school' in the Gilbert & Sullivan musical that C.C., Lea, and Audrey once sang and the three misfitting maids that they are. Tom and I collect old postcards, and I'm a faithful car-Karaoke singer of Gilbert & Sullivan lyrics, so we were extremely surprised and happy to see the proposed cover art." So there you are! A little insight into the meaning of the cover, from the author's perspective, and also some info about the original and working titles. Plus, here's School Library Journal's take on the book, which makes it sound intriguing to me (I'm into quiet sophistication): "The characters in this novel have their secrets and make false assumptions about others, causing them all to be crushed in some way. Audrey's mother died when the girl was young and her father is in financial trouble. Clyde's mother is dying of cancer. Wickham, born of an affair 18 years earlier and new in town, is running from his own secret. The trouble begins when he romances Audrey, who is quickly taken with his seeming sophistication. He, on the other hand, is looking for someone to help him graduate and relies on her academic assistance. Painfully shy Clyde also has a crush on her and uses his father's computer program to investigate Wickham's past. When he tries to share what he discovers with Audrey, she rejects him. In the meantime, a slanderous paper is circulating secrets about students and teachers. When cornered by the school bully, Audrey tells him that Clyde is the author, even though she lacks evidence. This sets in motion the revelation of other secrets and the breaking of hearts. With the exception of Audrey's friend Lea's off-key change in personality, characters and situations ring true. Readers will sympathize with these individuals, some of whom mature, and some of whom do not. This quiet, sophisticated story will appeal to a small, mature audience." Has anyone read Crushed? I'd love to hear more about it! PS-One of my past Cover Stories guests, Stephanie Kuehnert, hosted me for an interview on Saturday. Come visit me there!