Leah Stewart's first novel, The Myth of You and Me, about a friendship lost, is a favorite on my shelf that I've read more than once. Her latest, Husband and Wife, is one I'm greatly looking forward to reading. The artwork for both is up close and intimate; I asked her about her newest cover.
"I really didn't think about the cover while I was writing. I don't think visually—it takes real effort for me to describe a person's face or a physical space—so it never even occurs to me to associate one of my works in progress with an image. If anything I picture the title on a blank white background—it's all about the words with me. My publisher didn't ask for input, but I'd probably give totally unhelpful input if they did.
"When I first saw the cover for Husband and Wife, I noticed immediately that it rhymed with the cover of my last book, The Myth of You and Me (left), which also had the color red, prominently displayed hands, and an image of touch.
"My editor called to find out what I thought, and we had a long talk about all the possible covers they'd discarded. The one thing I pointed out was that the woman in the photo wasn't wearing a wedding ring, which it seemed like she should be given the title, and they photoshopped the ring in.
"I quite like this cover. I like the way the embrace in the photo is ambiguous. They're touching each other, but not necessarily in a passionate or even affectionate way. For all we know they're stepping close to whisper something hurtful to each other. To me this seems to capture what the book's about: the complicated good and bad of marriage.
"In that first conversation about the cover my editor described one of the others she particularly liked. As I remember, it was an image of a made bed against a light blue background. They ultimately set this one aside as perhaps too stark, insufficiently welcoming, but she said no to it with some regret, and I regretted it a little, too, just hearing it described.
"A fascinating and unanswerable question: How would that cover have altered perceptions of the book? Who would have picked up that version who wouldn't pick up the published one, and vice versa?"
Thank you, Leah! I love the question raised, and as for the cover that was chosen in the end, I think it will appeal to people who like to read about the nuances of human relationships (Stewart is a master at capturing those).
What do you think of this cover?
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 the new awkward-stage blog Before You Were Hot. Her author blog, where Cover Stories originated, is melissacwalker.com.