justina chen

Cover Stories: A Blind Spot for Boys

Justina Chen has been on this blog a few times talking covers (for Return to Me and North of Beautiful), and I'm lucky to have her back to talk about the cover of her latest novel, A BLIND SPOT FOR BOYS

"As soon as I finished writing, I knew that what the book needed was a bright, eye-catching cover. One that popped on the bookshelves. One that said: I am a fun read, people! I trust my publisher on the cover. They’ve done an outstanding job designing each of my novels. I think this was the first time Little, Brown didn’t ask for my input upfront. I’m glad. They designed and delivered a perfect cover.

"Actually, they more than delivered. Not only is my title a sunny yellow, but there are hot pink accents, including a secret heart on the inside cover. The cover photo features the cutest couple on the planet who you can tell have a great time together—and that is what I wish for all of my readers. For them to know and experience a really wonderful, soul-filling love. Then there’s a gorgeous photo of Machu Picchu on the back cover—a sacred site that rearranged me when I was there with my kids on a research trip. And to top it all off, my son took my author photo on the backflap. It’s his first photo credit. So all told, I couldn’t love my cover more!

"When I received the first cover concepts, I sat back in my office chair, mouth half-open, thinking to myself, They nailed it. Only one of the cover concepts drew a less than enthusiastic response from me. The guy’s hair was terrible! Luckily, my editor agreed.

"We evaluated another photograph with booksellers, but I think the feedback was that the original cover concept that we loved the most popped better on the bookshelves. The first time I saw it at a bookseller, I thought: the cover really does pop! The art department used two stock photos and collaged them together.

"I have to admit: every time I look at A BLIND SPOT FOR BOYS, I smile. It’s my favorite book cover, which is apropos since it was the most fun I’ve ever had writing a novel. The couple on the cover share the warm ease with each other that I imagined Shana and Quattro having. As well, you can see that they’re totally flirting with each other, which is perfect since Shana is a man magnet who put herself on a Boy Moratorium. Well. That didn’t last long. And Quattro is the reason why."



Cover Stories: Return To Me

return to meJustina Chen pours her heart into her novels, as all writers do in some way. But this latest one? It really is her heart. Read the back story about the novel here, and check out the Cover Story below. Thanks, Justina. "After toiling over RETURN TO ME for the better part of two years, mostly at four in the morning when the world was dark and dormant, I took myself off to Hawaii. There, in the high-sheen sunlight, I came across a red tropical flower that arrested my heart: the ohia lehua. It wasn't the color or the shape of the flower that enthralled me, but the tenacity of that flower, growing stubbornly in a field of hardened, black lava. So at one point, I could imagine that flower in the background of the book cover. Either that or a close-up of a fairy house, which my protagonist--an aspiring architect named Reb--crafted from found materials in the garden: twigs, leaves, pine needles.

north of beautiful"All that said, I have the utmost respect for Little, Brown's art department. Amazing designers, including RETURN TO ME's Tracy Shaw, have done outstanding jobs, translating my words into a singular image for every one of my book covers. I mean, isn't North of Beautiful gorgeous with the compass rose overlaid atop Terra's cheek? [Read the Cover Story.] And Girl Overboard--could there be any other cover but that one? So I knew that I should just stay mum when it was time for the art department to get involved and allow the creative geniuses free reign over their magic.

"Smart move! My editor showed me one concept and one concept only for RETURN TO ME. As soon as I saw the pdf, I knew the concept was The One, my story's soulmate. It's not just the cover I adore, but the entire designed book right down to the perfectly architected font, page layout, and interior pages. The interleaves separating the three sections of the book are so beautifully designed, I teared up when I viewed them the first time. So you can only imagine how I felt when I held the hardbound book in my two hands: it was as if my heart had returned to me, better than before."

Thank you, Justina! I love the faded and fuzzy parts of this cover, almost like a filter that makes it dreamlike in parts, sharp in others. I also really like the light play on the water and the pink translucent lettering of the title. What do you guys think?