Cover Stories: Where She Went

Where She Went, the sequel to Gayle Forman's lovely If I Stay (remember that Cover Story?), comes out tomorrow! Though it's told from Adam's point of view, that's Mia on the cover, obvs. Here's Gayle to share the story of how this book's cover came to be: "The image that kept coming to mind as I wrote was the Brooklyn Bridge. It plays a pivotal role in the story and for some reason it just stuck because it's so strong both from both a visual and literary standpoint. I believe that Penguin did experiment with using the bridge initially but decided that it didn't work.

ifistaypb.jpg"The challenge for the US publication was marrying the US If I Stay paperback cover--the eerily half-dead-looking girl, right--with a new hardcover look. But I had to make it extra tricky because, unlike If I Stay, which is from Mia's perspective, Where She Went is in Adam's voice. So how to create a cover that seemed like a package with the paperback but was from a guy's perspective?

"We were obviously departing from the quieter US hardcover look, with the flower, tree and branches (below left), which I loved but would not work at all in terms of a new book about a rock and roll guy, so I'm so glad we had the paperback cover to use as a jumping-off point. ifistay.jpg

"In the end, in sort of a duh, why didn't we think of it sooner epiphany, we all realized that the US cover had to have another Mia. Because even though the book is from Adam's POV, it's still about Mia. It's about where she went. So the covers are meant to be bookends. One horizontal, one vertical, one passive, one more active. There's no Brooklyn Bridge, and yet the covers are, in my opinion, such a perfect bridge.

"My publisher asked for ideas, but honestly, I knew that I had thrown them such a huge challenge in finding a cover for Where She Went that would be both striking, true to the book, and of a piece with If I Stay that I kept my mouth shut. Because really, truly, I had no clue what to do. I was relieved that I was not in the design department. Had Where She Went been a stand-alone, I think there would've been so many directions to go in. But in a way, the design was limited by the If I Stay cover. So I just sat back and wondered what they were going to do and felt grateful that coming up with a cover concept was not my job.

"When I saw the first version of the cover, my response was: Everything but the girl. Because I loved the general concept, and the idea of having a girl--Mia--on the cover, seemed so right. But the original girl looked nothing like the Mia from the first cover. And the model from the first cover was no longer available, and, oddly, other photos we'd found of her, looked nothing like the girl from the If I Stay cover. Also, the girl in the Where She Went cover try, aside from not resembling the original Mia, looked rather sad and wistful. Mia needed to look more fierce.

"My editor was in total agreement with me, both about the Mia needing to look like the If I Stay Mia and about the wrongness of her expression--actually, she was the one who first raised the second point. So she took our case to the art department.

"I am sure the art department went through a period of not loving my editor or me. I think they thought we were asking for the moon: a twin of the initial Mia with a fierce expression on her face? They must've been like: How the hell are we going to find that? And then they went and pulled a rabbit out of a hat. Found the perfect image. The girl on Where She Went totally looks like the girl on the If I Stay cover. And what I love most is the look on her face. On If I Stay, the girl's look is haunting; it draws you in. On Where She Went, it's determined, which is fitting for who Mia has become, and also draws you in. Which is what a cover must do.

"Aside from the model swap, the background went from this sort of bright colored spots reminiscent of city lights--now on the inside flaps--to the smoky gray, which tied it more to the If I Stay cover. When you see the two covers together, they really are of a set. A lovely, striking set.

"The cover is a stock photo. I believe that they did do a photo shoot on the Brooklyn Bridge, but it just didn't capture the right feeling as well as this existing image did. Funnily enough, the bridge wound up becoming an element for some of the foreign covers, like the French and UK jackets (below). New York City is a strong selling point abroad, apparently. But it didn't work for the US cover.

"It's funny because back when I was trying to imagine how they would jacket Where She Went, I wouldn't have imagined this direction. And it was a bit of an evolution to get it totally right, so it wasn't that initial visceral YES! But when I saw the jacket on the ARC, it just felt so absolutely right, as though that were the way it was meant to be all along.

'There are two things that make the cover perfect to me: One is the look on the girl's face. It beckons you, or at least it beckons me. So yes, this is Adam's book, but if you read it, it will make sense to you that Mia is on the cover and this girl will make sense as Mia. And second, when I hold this book up against the paperback of If I Stay--which has become the dominant image now--they look stunning together. Yin and Yang. They complete each other."


Thanks, Gayle! I love the cloudy blue-gray ethereal feel that the covers have, and though I'm a fan of the original If I Stay cover, and I even like the way the Brooklyn Bridge looks on the UK version, I agree that this matched set is really lovely.

What do you guys think?