Photo Friday + Cover Story: Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith

MW and CLS.JPG This week, I got to meet the amazing Cynthia Leitich Smith at a super-fun event at the Brooklyn Public Library. She was incredible and dozens of kids were totally engaged as she spoke -- about 30 hands went up when she asked for questions. Loved it! That's us, above. BLESSED_hardcover_CP.jpgHer latest book, Blessed, came out in January, and the Cover Story is awesome. So here's Cynthia with a Photo Friday/Cover Story mix:

"I knew what I didn't want on the cover of Blessed: a sword. Not because I don't like swords (I do!*) or like them on covers (ditto!), but because the sword in the story is borrowed, and I wanted something that was more closely related to Quincie herself.

"Beyond that, I had no idea. Book one in the series, Tantalize (right), featured a profile of the protagonist. tantalize_paperback.jpgBook two, Eternal, featured a luminescent angel wing (below left). So there wasn't a standard pattern, and I felt great about that.

"This series isn't the story of one protagonist. It's the story of four. The books are coming out in both prose and graphic format. Some are told in a singular point of view, others in alternating. If I wasn't going to embrace a formula, why should the cover designer(s)?

"I had a lot of faith in Candlewick Press. One of the reasons I decided to first send Tantalize to the house was because of the wonderful art and production values of the books on its list.

eternal_paperback.jpg"When I first saw the cover, I was so surprised to see the dress! I don't know why. It's something symbolic of Quincie, which is exactly what I wanted, and it speaks to several themes of the novel.

"I did worry a bit that it would be off-putting to boys, especially because a couple of men in my life made a point of saying so. But I often hear from guy readers who weren't the least repelled by the photo of Quincie on the cover of Tantalize. So, I'm hopeful that, coupled with the other books in the series, it'll be clear that Blessed is for both genders.

"To the extent that girls tend to be the romance readers, there's plenty for them here. But my books aren't genre romances per se. They also feature strong elements of suspense, action, and mystery. So, readers--both male and female--looking for more will find it.

BLESSED_hardcover_CP.jpg"I'm crazy about the cover, and I think the white stands out on shelves. I didn't expect to see the rose petals, but the red provides a lovely Gothic juxtaposition as does the makeshift path.

"The gown is Quincie's late mother's wedding dress, and Quincie wears it into battle at the end of the story. Growing up, she felt a bit overshadowed by her mom and has been trying to fill her shoes at the family restaurant.

"More recently, the vampire chef Bradley, who cursed Quincie with his blood, had dressed her in a white nightgown on the night she rose undead. So, this is her way of both distracting him and facing him down on her own terms.

"What's more, a wedding is a sacrament (or at least it is to Quincie), and this is a novel wherein she is given a guardian angel, which reassures her that she's still a child of God. That her soul is still wholly hers.

"Finally, Quincie is fighting alongside her true love, the hybrid werewolf Kieren, which is romantic in its way, especially since they've been recently reunited after what could've been a permanent separation. "They're only seventeen with no plans of marriage at the moment, just reveling in being together and being in love. That said, Kieren's mother is a wedding planner, so you know, if the day ever comes...!

"*I like swords as decorative/art objects and in stories, but in real life, I wouldn't want one pointed at me or you."

Thanks, Cynthia! I think all of her covers are gorgeous, and I'm a sucker for an amazing dress shot. Super Valentiney, right? What do you guys think?

PS-The sky on my walk home from that library visit? So pretty/creepy it made me want to be listening to Cynthia's book on my iPod.

park sky.jpg