Kate Rockland's Falling Is Like This is out today! The book has a cover that is hard and soft at the same time. Maybe that's appropriate given the story: A tabloid writer breaks up with her boyfriend and starts dating a punk-rock god. It's the fast-paced, rock-and-roll affair of her dreams. Or is it?
With lots of vivid NYC scenes and a quick pace, the novel itself has both harsh and tender moments. So how'd they get that cover? Here's Kate:
"I kept a folder on my desktop with jpeg images that I loved as I wrote the book, always keeping the cover in the back of my mind. It's kind of like senior year of high school; sure I was working hard in my classes to get into college, but all along I was dreaming about what my prom dress would look like. If you do the tough work, the fluff is that much more exciting.
"A lot of my jpegs were album covers of punk bands, such as the Sex Pistol's album cover for 'Never Mind the Bollocks.' I liked that it was hot pink and lemony yellow. Those colors stood out for me, and later on my cover ended up with hot pink type, so I guess my vision translated somehow. I also would cut picture out of magazines of photographs of women, usually in black and white. I imagined my cover with a photograph of a moody-looking women slightly turned with a bright florescent background that jumped out at the reader in the bookstore. There are also scenes of Coney Island in Falling Is Like This, so I'd cut out photographs of Coney Island and made them into a collage on my refrigerator, which I felt also evoked a mood in me whenever I passed by them.
"I sent my editor the jpeg images I'd been saving, but they really didn't ask me for much input, not as much as you'd think, perhaps. I think you have to be pretty famous such as the collaboration between iconic designer Milton Glaser and Philip Roth to start ordering around the art department for your cover. I was just so happy to be published that I gave my novel up as a tender offering to the St. Martin's Press art department and figured I'd let them work with it as they saw fit. I just hoped they would really read the book to decide what cover to put on it, not just slap any image on there, like a pair of high heels. Although I admit, I really like novels with high heels on their covers!
"I was a little put off when I first saw my cover. I took so long writing the novel that it felt a little like an arranged marriage to me; this was the guy I was going to have to spend the rest of my life with? And I'm just seeing him for the first time, so I don't know all his personality traits that are going to make me fall in love with him in the years to come, its love at first sight... or not.
"I wrote to Katie Gilligan, my editor, and said I liked the tattoos but I wanted to see a cover with a jpeg image of a woman on it. Now, I know there's been a lot of controversy with feminists about women's novels that have a picture of a woman on it. Sometimes they don't show her face, or they only show parts of her body, leaving the viewer with a somewhat strange feeling, like the female character isn't being seen for her true self, she's chopped up, she's hiding. And certainly its true, that men's jacket covers always seem to show a man's full face, as if its a ticket to boldness, as though a male character doesn't have to hide. I understand this argument and I think its a good one. However, I didn't see women's jacket covers as being elusive or an empty image for readers.
"I liked the two women on Jennifer Weiner's Best Friends Forever jacket, how they walked away from the camera on the beach, holding their dresses against the wind. I liked not seeing their faces because it made me want to know more about who they are, and why they were walking together on the sand. It was a provocative look. I think Chick Lit books covers come in three categories:
1). Photograph of a woman in motion
3). One object, such as a ring on Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed
"I wanted to see what the art department would come up with for the third choice, one object that would sum up Falling Is Like This. I was told by my editor that she really felt the tattoo drawings would set my book apart from other Chick Lit, that it really hasn't been done before, and that the tattoo artist had done a great job. I later realized she was right, and the cover grew on me until I love it now. They have a lot more experience than I do about picking unique covers. I just asked that the tattoo of the outline of NJ be changed, I didn't love it. They were totally fine with it, they removed the Jersey tattoo and put a heart and lock one on the cover instead. I later kind of missed it.
"Once I realized the pink and black and white tattoo and punk cover was the way to go, we kept it pretty much the same. I asked them to make my author photo a little bigger, because I thought it looked weird without showing my hair blowing in the wind. Without the hair my face looked too chubby! I also asked them to make my name slightly larger on the bottom. I did put a lot of work into this, after all.
"My cover is really unique, in that it was drawn by a NYC tattoo artist. I don't think there's another novel that can claim that. So, it was hand drawn. I am absolutely in love with it. I wouldn't change a thing. I love the Coney Island Wonder Wheel, which is taken from a scene where Harper and Nick go to Coney Island for the day, after all the tourists have left for the season. It's October, the wind is picking up, and the sideshow acts have all packed up and hit the road."
Thanks, Kate! I really love the cover and all the symbols on it. I think the pink works well too, and that Courtney Love endorsement? It doesn't hurt.
What do you guys think of this cover? Does it grab you?
Melissa Walker is the author of four Young Adult novels, including the Violet trilogy and Lovestruck Summer. She is co-creator of the popular teen newsletter I Heart Daily, and her author blog, where Cover Stories originated, is melissacwalker.com.