stealing death

Cover Stories: Stealing Death by Janet Lee Carey (+ Giveaway!)

stealingdeathfinal large.jpgJanet Lee Carey's Stealing Death is newly out in paperback! In a starred review, School Library Journal called the book "fantasy at its best--original, beautiful, amazing, and deeply moving." (And you have a chance to win it!)Here's Janet to talk about the two different covers:

"I had some ideas for the STEALING DEATH hardback (left); Kipp standing in front of his burning house with his arms out to prevent the Death Catcher from taking his family, or just a hand stealing a black sack (the Death Catcher's soul sack). I'm glad now the artists didn't go with either of those images. Both the HB and the PB covers focused on the characters and the ghost mare, ChChka, Kipp steals to make his getaway.

"The artists for the HB and the PB wanted to capture the right Zolyan clothing for Kipp who starts the story as a farm laborer, and for Zalika who goes from a high class landlord's daughter to escaped prisoner in nomadic dress.

"When queried about their clothing for the PB, I sent links like this one Ethiopian Women focusing on the pics with more traditional dress from the site.

"The Zolyan landscape was modeled on the arid climate in Sub-Saharan Africa. I looked to the more traditional clothing in pics of men and women living in drought conditions. Images speak. The desperate living conditions I saw in the photos spurred me on to get involved with PlayPumps now a part of Water For People. I also challenged readers to get involved on the 'giving back' page on my website.

"My first response to the HB cover = Magical! The night flight on ChChka captured the adventurous aspect of novel, as well as the romance between Kipp and Zalika. It didn't evoke the darker elements of the novel. Later feedback said the image appealed more to younger teens than older teens.

stealing_death_paperback.jpg"First response to the PB (right) = Riveting! The paperback cover heightens the sense of danger that drives the novel. I think it will appeal to readers who are ready to take Kipp's perilous journey that unmasks our old cultural taboos about death. We all see violence and death plastered across the media. We grow up consuming this stuff. What if we stop camera, zoom in the shot. STEALING DEATH isn't about easy answers. It is about looking at death and not turning our backs.

"I was thrilled to see Zalika on both covers. Publishing has come a long way since Ursula K. Le Guin's The Wizard of Earthsea came out. Ursula fought for years to get different ethnicities on her Earthsea series covers. wizard.jpgThe main characters in her Earthsea books are brown skinned. She found it very frustrating that the covers didn't reflect this (left).

"In a Guardian UK interview Ursula said, 'I see Ged as dark brownish-red, and all the other people in the book (except the Kargs and Serret) as brown or brown-red, to very dark or black (Vetch). In other words, in the Archipelago 'people of color' are the norm, white people are an anomaly... what drives me up the wall is cover illustrators - trying to get them not to make everybody white, white, white.'

"Read the rest of the post . . . I have to say it was not just illustrators who were working within the restricted cultural blindness of their time, but change is afoot and publishing is listening. The covers of Ursula's new YA books are good examples (below). Still we have a long way to go. I enjoyed reading author Elizabeth Bluemle's article on race in children's literature in a recent Publisher's Weekly post.

ursula.jpg "In the end, for my covers, I love the terrifying image of Kipp and Zalika approaching ChChka engulfed in flame. The flaming horse is not burning to death, but alive within the inferno. For me the image evokes the sense of life and death existing together in the eternal now, something essential and mysterious touched on in STEALING DEATH.

"Can we stop death? What would happen if we did? The question took me on Kipp's amazing quest."

Thanks, Janet! I agree that the hardcover is magical, but that it does have a younger-reader feel to it. The paperback cover has a heightened danger to it--and the fire horse is pretty riveting. I'm also glad that the cultures in the book have some place in the covers. Kudos to Egmont.

What do you guys think? One lucky commenter will win a copy of the paperback version of Stealing Death!

PS-Check out Janet's DreamWalks blog here.