Cover Stories: The Aspen Brooks Series by Stephanie Hale

Stephanie Hale's Aspen Brooks series is highly entertaining. I have to admit that I've only read the first one, but I loved it. I also happen to adore the books' covers, so I asked Stephanie if she'd give us some back story. She obliged.hayden-panettiere.jpg "From the moment I sat down to write the first book of my Aspen Brooks series, Revenge of the Homecoming Queen, I had a very clear picture of who Aspen was in my head. She was smart, beautiful, and loyal. She also thinks she is better than cake and would not hesitate to crush anyone in her path at a Dooney and Bourke purse sale. The actress that kept popping into my head was Hayden Panettiere (this was way before her HEROES fame). If you aren't familiar with this actress, she's a BLONDE. There was no question that my Aspen was a blonde. Keyword: blonde, you will be tested later. Revenge_of_the_Queen.jpg "When I got an email in my inbox saying that it included my first cover I think I had some kind of a spastic fit around the house for a bit before I opened it. This was it. Official validation that I was really going to be an author. The story that I had poured blood, sweat, and tears (not really, okay, maybe the tears part on all my rejection letters) was going to be immortalized. In just a few moments I would know the images that would stare out from book shelves begging someone to read the pages I had written inside. I took a deep breath, double-checked on the attached document, and nearly had a stroke. I didn't see the adorable little frog with the crown on his head or the amazing, curly font (called hair spray, btw. How awesome is that?) that spelled out my name and title. I just saw a beautiful girl looking back at me. A beautiful brunette girl. Pop quiz: What color did I picture Aspen's hair to be? Answer: Not Brunette! "The girl really resembled Julia Stiles. Except that hair. She was beautiful but also looked like she could hold her own. I knew that my cover girl wouldn't think twice about getting into a cat fight if it meant getting the last Dooney on sale. Then I noticed that adorable little frog and that awesome curlyque font. I loved that the girl looked dressed up for a formal occasion. Then I realized that it didn't really matter what color her hair was because she was perfect. Part of the fun of reading is using your own imagination to create the characters in your mind. I knew that everyone who read my book would have their own mental picture of Aspen. So I kept her hair blonde in my story because that is who she was to me. twisted%20sisters.jpg "I found out later that the picture of the girl had been taken for an article in a teen magazine showing different ways to wear your hair for homecoming. The girl on my cover didn't even know she was on a cover until someone showed her. She found me on MySpace and I couldn't believe what a sweetheart she was. I was so excited when Berkley decided to use the same girl for my Twisted Sisters and Spring Breakup covers. She has changed since the first cover and so has Aspen. I love all my covers but I think Spring Breakup is my favorite. She looks very mischievous with her sunglasses pulled down. And I love the little high heel and the hot pink spine and back cover. spring%20breakup.jpg "My editor never asked me for any input on my covers and I have to admit that I'm very happy. I never would have done them justice. Getting a new cover is still the most exciting/nerve wracking part of this whole process for me. I don't know if the cover gods will always shine on me but they have definitely done a good job so far!" I totally agree--Stephanie's books always stand out to me, and I have yet to see that hair spray font elsewhere (so cute!). What do you guys think? PS-If you're in or near New York City, listen to Justine Larbalestier and go to this today! PPS-Today starts five weeks of big contests at readergirlz. Go, go!