beth kephart

Cover Stories: You Are My Only

Beth Kephart has shared many Cover Stories in this space--for Undercover and House of Dance, for Nothing But Ghosts and for The Heart is Not a Size. Her latest novel is high in my pile, and it should be in yours too! I dare you to read a Beth Kephart book and not sigh at the beauty of her words. She's truly a poet (check out her blog for proof). Here's Beth talking about the cover of her new novel, You Are My Only:

"For many months I have wondered just how I would write this cover story. In some ways, I still don’t know quite what to say.

"Should I start with the title, You Are My Only, which sets the mood? And if I start with the title, then aren’t I really starting (or shouldn’t I start) by thanking my agent, Amy Rennert, and her colleague, Robyn Russell, who helped me toward knowing what the title must be during a week of grave uncertainty?

"You Are My Only, then—a title that I was helped toward. Words that struck me once, and strike me again today, as singular and brave.

"To create the image, we turned, of course, to Neil Swaab, who had designed the gorgeous cover for Dangerous Neighbors [read that Cover Story on], and who seems to get books the moment he reads them—seems to settle on that symbol or scene that obsessed the writer or, in this case, kept the writer going. Both of my protagonists—Sophie and Emmy—are caught inside worlds, trapped in places they should not be. Both look out through windows on people and places just out of reach. What might symbolize that? What single image might tell the story of two young women separated by time and place and hurt?

"Neil Swaab seemed to know at once. He found a photograph taken by the tremendously talented Yolande de Kort. It said trapped. It still said beauty. It was right. Neil made that image his own—adjusting its orientation and palette, working the typography so that the words, too, became weather.

"I saw no other cover image for You Are My Only. I did not have to. I can’t even imagine this book with any other title, any other photograph, any other typography. Sometimes things just work, and I am grateful to Laura Geringer, who brought Neil Swaab into the Egmont USA team, for making this cover work for me. It doesn’t mean to be scary. It means to suggest. It means for readers to look past the surface of things and into the hearts of others, to see what truths lie there."

Thank you, Beth! I am a sucker for a rain-soaked window, and the orange of her shirt and the muted lip color... so pretty and soft. This is one I will savor reading.

What do you guys think of this cover?

Cover Stories: The Heart is Not a Size by Beth Kephart

heart.jpgBeth Kephart is a master storyteller. Her words are poetic. I've said this 1000 times, and it's true in each book. Here she is with the Cover Story for her latest work of art, The Heart is Not a SIze:

"Because my fourth young adult novel, The Heart is Not a Size, was inspired by a trip that I took to a squatters' village in Juarez, I had a strong visual sense of the country and the people I hoped the book's cover might portray. Georgia, my narrator, is, like me, a photographer. She has her new digital camera perpetually hanging from her neck. It was my hope, originally, to have one of Georgia's photographs grace the cover of the book--a portrait of the gorgeous children Georgia meets perhaps, or a study of shadows and contrast during a raging dust storm.

"But such absolute realism, Marketing worried, could suggest--to a bookstore browser--that Heart was a work of nonfiction, and so a different route was pursued. "Initial designs for the cover featured a Caucasian girl in a cute, short T-shirt; the photo was cropped tightly, revealing the model's mid-section and nothing more. It was a bright cover--eye-catching and commercially appealing--and I knew that Harper had given the look much care and concerted effort. But I worried that Juarez wasn't there, nor Georgia (who is hardly fashion forward). Harper graciously took another look and produced the cover that was ultimately selected.

"The photograph is not one I took, and it is, from what I understand, a careful montage. It suggests a story that takes place far away, in a country about which we do not know nearly enough--a country that now broadcasts itself to us in extremely painful headlines. DSC04240.jpg Drug wars, murders, assassinations. That is the Juarez we've come to know. But there is so much more to that place.

"When I was in Juarez, in 2005, I met people who were gorgeous inside and out--children and parents whose fates I wonder about every day. If only I could safeguard them with my love for them, I think. All I can do--all I have--is the book that they inspired."

Thank you, Beth. Now, watch a video with many of Beth's Juarez images (like the gorgeous one at right), and an excerpt read by Beth herself:

What does this cover say to you guys?

Release Week Cover Stories: Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart

Welcome to the third post of my Release Week Cover Stories extravaganza! (Lovestruck Summer was officially released... YESTERDAY!) I use the word extravaganza because each day, as I interview a new author about their cover, I will also be giving away a copy of the book we're talking about. To enter to win, just leave a comment about the Cover Story. I'll choose a winner exactly a week later. NothingButGhosts HC c.jpg"Since Nothing but Ghosts is rooted not just in my imagination, but within Chanticleer, a very specific pleasure garden that I have now visited for years, this book was always visually alive to me. I could see each scene--place it atop the ambling hill, or beside the watercress stream, or within the shadows of a tree at night. I could see it. I hoped that others would.

"I sent photographs of the garden to my editor, Jill Santopolo, and to Carla Weise, art director, at HarperTeen. I sent images, too, of young women standing by windows, since DSC03278.jpgthis is one of the book's prevalent themes. And then I waited, as Jill, Carla, and the HarperTeen worked through what sounds like dozens of possibilities. One of the pivotal scenes in the book involves the sun streaming through a window and catching the light of tinted bottles; a related image was DSC03257.jpgapparently tried. There are horses and old photographs in this book; these, too, were considered. In the end, there was but one day left before the book would have to be sent out for binding into ARCs, and that is the day that I first saw, on my husband's tiny phone, the image that became the Nothing but Ghosts cover.

DSC03280.jpg"I loved it--every single thing about it--and felt the great happiness that arises when one feels as if an editor, an art director, and a marketing team have entered into your world and seen just what it was you were hoping to leave behind. That mood. That manner of maturity. That character waiting for a breeze. I seek, with my YA novels, to write beyond DSC03218.jpggenre or category--simply to tell a story that has a teen protagonist at its heart, in a way that engages any reader, of any age. This particular cover is timeless and ageless, too. Oh, how I had hoped for that.

"It is rare when an author feels as at peace as I have felt about this particular cover. I know how lucky I got, this time around, and I am grateful."

I love this cover! I think it has a softness and a sense of nostalgia--and whoa, those grounds that Beth knows, how gorgeous are they? I'm right in the middle of reading the book--it's fantastic. Beth Kephart is a wonderful writer (just check out her blog, filled with photos and poetry daily--a bouquet of posts to enjoy!). I mean, Beth even writes poetry when she's telling me her Cover Story! So, for a chance to win my early copy of Nothing But Ghosts (after I read it!), comment below and let me know what you think of the cover, what it might mean to you.

Happy Wednesday!

PS-Over at Shooting Stars Mag, Lauren set it up so that Violet Greenfield interviewed me (and yes, it was bizarre and fun to be interviewed by my own character!). Check it out.

PPS-Last week's winner of Sophomore Switch is... Leighanna! Send me your address, L. (I loved hearing about all your views on feminism... maybe I'll ask questions like that more often).