Cover Stories: Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith

eternal_cover.jpgThe prolific and fabulous Cynthia Leitich Smith, whose book blog Cynsations is a must-read, is here today to share the Cover Story behind ETERNAL, her second YA Gothic fantasy novel (TANTALIZE was the first). This one comes by special request from Ari of Reading in Color (another fantastic blog). Here's Cynthia!

"I had trouble imagining what the cover of ETERNAL (Candlewick, 2009) might look like. It's set in the same universe as my previous YA Gothic fantasy novel, TANTALIZE (Candlewick, 2007, right), tantalize_large_hardcover.jpgso I sort of expected the books to have a somewhat similar cover design style.

"Only problem? Where TANTALIZE is told from one point of view, that of Quincie (who's 'pictured' on the cover), ETERNAL is told in alternating points of view by two characters, the guardian angel Zachary and the vampire princess Miranda.

"I couldn't figure out how the designers would incorporate two similarly laid-out profiles, unless one was on the front and one on the back, but then, how would they pick which would go where? I was also vaguely worried about them finding the right stock image of a girl to represent Miranda. She's Chinese-Scottish, and I've noticed that at least some mixed-race characters on book covers don't seem to reflect their full heritage (with the obvious caveat that biracial kids in general turn out looking a very wide variety of ways; the text made it clear that Miranda's facial features reflected both sides of her heritage).

"On a related note, here's how Miranda describes Zachary: 'This one is a heavenly looking young man. He's tall and muscled like a swimmer or a statue by Michelangelo. No, not a statue; nothing so mundane, so common, as a mere masterpiece. More like its inspiration. His shoulder-length, gently curled hair falls like feathers. It's a golden brown, a shade lighter than his skin. His eyes are a shocking green--not emerald, warmer than that, more vibrant and fringed with dark gold lashes. He looks like he's been ripped from Eden, and he's gazing at me as if mesmerized, as if he loves me, and as if I'm the most geeky hell spawn in history.'

eternal_uk.jpg"How do you cast that? I wondered. Heavenly is a high standard. "The irony? That the author writing this nonlinear series from multiple points of view and in both prose and graphic-novel formats would expect the design team to hem themselves in.

"They went with a symbolic cover instead, juxtaposing Zachary's luminescent white wing against a dark background, showing heaven's light at the top and then becoming more shadowy as the eye descends to the Gothic, devilish red lettering that represents eternal_australia.jpegMiranda. I've also included the Walker UK cover (12/7/09 release, above), which emphasizes the concept more (vampire princess, guardian angel) with jazzier type while still using the same image and the Walker Australia and New Zealand cover (12/01/09 release, right), which offers the angel himself instead."

I've always admired Cynthia's covers. I think TANTALIZE is breathtaking, and I like the version of ETERNAL with just the wing--it has an ethereal feel that hints at lightness and darkness. I'm into the subtlety. What do you guys think?