Cover Stories: Fallen by Lauren Kate

I want the dress on the cover of Lauren Kate's Fallen. Okay, I know I'm not original, but it's the truth. How gorgeous is that?! I had to ask how it all came about. Here's Lauren:

final.fallen.jkt.jpg "Before I was writing full-time, I worked as an Associate Editor at HarperCollins Children's Books, so I got to spend a lot of time with the art department there and I realized a) how bad I was at visualizing cover concepts that represented and helped promote books, and b) how absolutely excellent the art department was at doing just that. Writing a story and visually representing the story are really very, very separate skills. In my experience, even when authors come into a project with a clear idea for the cover, they often end up groveling at the feet of the talented designers and artists who can get at their books in a really different way and bring something entirely new and fresh to the package of the book.

"This is all to say that it did not even occur to me to try and visualize what the Fallen cover would look like. I left that in the hands of the experts from the beginning! And that was a very good idea.

"They really didn't come to me beforehand, and I didn't expect them to. Of course, if I'd had a specific idea about the cover, I would have brought it to them, but again, I feel lucky for my experience as an editor because I came into this endeavor understanding what a collaborative process publishing a book really is. I was excited to let the art department do their thing. And what they came up with was just so stunning.

"I was living on a farm in northern California and I didn't have internet access, just my phone, which downloaded images about as quickly as grass grows. I saw this email from my editor with the subject line 'Cover Comp!' and then it wouldn't load and it wouldn't load and I paced my house and when the tiny jpeg finally opened on my cell phone screen, I just about collapsed on the couch. It was like nothing I could have imagined for the book--and yet it was perfect. Beautiful, haunting. It evoked an entire world in one image, which was exactly what I wanted.

'Oooooh, ahhhhh.' That was about all I had to say.

"This was the only version I saw, so I never imagined that a whole battle had gone on in-house. I found out later that after some discussions at my publisher, several other cover comps had been proposed and argued over in many loooong meetings. It wasn't until the very last minute that they decided to stay with the original. I think what finally tipped the scale was that Random House polled a group of teen girls and asked them which of a few covers they liked best. The results of the survey were pretty overwhelmingly in favor of the first--and current!--cover.

"I *think* the cover is a painting based on a photograph, or a photograph somehow doctored to look as rich as a painting. All I know is that there is a genius in Brazil who delivers these beautiful pieces (we're using her work for Torment, the sequel, as well) to the art department at Random House and they do some manipulations and it comes out looking pretty fab.

"When I first wrote the book, there was no scene that described this exact image. No big flowing black dress, no forest escape. Actually there still isn't quite that scene... but something about this image evokes the essence of the story, even builds on it. I went back and revised the scene where Luce finds that first photograph of one of her past lives. I wrote in the black dress. I gave Luce wristlets and very long hair. The cover takes on her past lifetime, though this exact image (her being alone in a forest) happens off the pages of this first book. I like that, I think it's provocative that even the cover image suggests there's more to this story than is told in Fallen. I'm looking forward to speaking to all of that mystery in the later books.

"I did have an idea for the model's pose on the second book's jacket (Torment, which comes out in the fall) and I proposed this to my publisher. The cover is still a work in progress, but they're working with the idea I proposed and I think it's turning out really well."

Thanks, Lauren! Fascinating. I wonder if that genius in Brazil can make me a dress like Luce's, and the gloves, too. Just for around the house, you know.

What do you guys think of this cover?