Melissa Walker

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 Melissa Walker

HoldStill_112409.jpgI think Hold Still, which is a beautiful book, has gotten two great covers (hardcover and paperback) so I had to ask Nina LaCour about each one. Here she is:
“I was super worried about my cover. My mom used to be a graphic designer so I grew up a little bit of a design snob. My biggest worry was that the art team would make the book look to girly, or too light, that they would strike a tone that didn’t suit the story. So when I heard that Mia Nolting (who had been writing out the journal entries in the novel since before I even had an agent) was going to do the cover art, I was thrilled and relieved. I love Mia’s work. It’s clean and delicate and has this awesome current, indie quality while still being poignant and honest and really moving. Plus, she’s my friend. I loved the first concept she came up with: a girl in jeans with a camera around her neck, a strip mall behind her, a layer of text (below). The concept evolved from there to include a girl’s face with the camera raised in front of it and another girl spinning in the distance, and I liked this idea of overlapping images.hold still illo.jpg“Then, I got a call from my wonderful editor, Julie Strauss-Gabel, who told me that people at Penguin were getting excited about the book, and what we thought was going to be a pretty quiet book was actually going to be a ‘big’ book for the fall season. I was thrilled to hear this news, but bummed to hear that it meant we were moving in a different direction with the cover. Mia’s drawings were no longer going to be on it–instead we would be going with a photograph.
“The next cover I saw was a complete departure. It was a photograph of a mournful-looking girl with a large shadow hovering behind her. The photograph was black and white and the title was written in a red computer font. I did not like this cover. The girl was too glamorous and it felt so oppressively sad. Hold Still is a sad book, but I see it as ultimately hopeful. It’s funny because this cover was the opposite of my initial fears that the book would look too light and fluffy. Now it looked like it was all about suffering. I panicked.
HoldStill_HI.jpg“Slowly, though, the cover evolved and I grew to like the new direction (right). The art team held a photo shoot with a different model who looked more like I imagine Caitlin. Mia’s embellishments appeared as the leaves in the corner, and one of her early ideas of torn paper also showed up. Her hand lettering replaced the computer fonts, and ultimately it looked like a good cross between the artistic hand done cover we initially dreamed up and the more commercial photographic cover that came after.
“Then, a year later and out of the blue, came news of the paperback redesign. Sara Crowe, my lovely agent, called me and told me that she hadn’t seen the cover yet but that it was described to her as ‘a girl with her arms out like she’s flying.’ Yikes! Again, I got worried. But then I saw the new cover (below), and I was blown away.
HoldStill_112409.jpg
“It still feels sad to me, but it also has the raw hope that fills the last sections of the book. When I showed it to my writing group, one of my friends said, ‘That’s exactly what you want to feel like when you’re fifteen,’ something that struck me as very true. Rosie Hardy took the photograph, and it’s a self-portrait which fits perfectly with the events in the novel. Theresa Evangelista designed both the hardcover and paperback, and I feel really fortunate to have two such different and striking covers that represent different aspects of my novel.”
Thanks, Nina! I love knowing that the paperback image is a self-portrait, and I really do think both covers are winners. What do you guys think?

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