When I saw Joanne Rendell's Out of the Shadows, I gasped at how pretty the book was, and then I immediately wanted to study all the little details that add up to such a gasp-worthy cover. 


I asked Joanne to share how it came about, and here she is:


"I always imagined something beautiful for the cover, but brooding and atmospheric too. For me, Mary Shelley has always conjured up images of windswept moors, flickering candles, and of course the pitiful and mutilated monster in her most famous book Frankenstein. But I knew these kind of images couldn’t go on the cover. Out of the Shadows is about a contemporary woman who thinks she is related to Mary Shelley. It is not a biography, nor a book solely about Frankenstein. The cover, I knew, must speak to the past, the present, and the future just as the novel aims to do. 


"My editor and I discussed the cover beforehand and we both agreed that it should combine a contemporary feel with a touch of the gothic. It was my editor who suggested a woman looking in a mirror, but I quickly agreed. Out of the Shadows not only follows Clara Fitzgerald’s journey to discover the truth about her connection to Mary Shelley. It‘s also a book about Clara’s journey to discover herself and to really see herself for the first time. The mirror seems a fitting symbol for this. 


"When I saw the cover, it was Love! Seriously. I fell utterly in love with it. In fact, I fell so head over the heels that, like an anxious lover, I quickly became worried that the art department might want to change or tweak it or somehow take away my object of love! 


"I made no comments, except 'I love it. Please don’t change a thing!' Thankfully, they barely changed it from the first draft, except to insert a blurb. Also, even more deliciously, they added pale blue foil lettering on the final copies! 


"As I said, I think the mirror perfectly symbolizes Clara’s own soul searching in the book. But the juxtaposition of this ornate and antique mirror with a more contemporary looking woman also speaks to the way the book mixes history with the present. Out of the Shadows is told from alternating points of view between Clara and the young Mary Shelley preparing to write Frankenstein. In many ways, Clara and Mary’s stories are so different. Mary is a young girl growing up in early nineteenth-century London, while Clara is a thirty-something professor who lives in modern day New York City. But there are many echoes too. Mary and Clara are both on the cusp of finding themselves. They are searching for a way out of the shadows of those around them. For Mary, it is the shadow of her mother’s death, her father’s protection, and the life that doesn’t yet fulfill her. For Clara, she must find a way to live for herself, to pursue her own dreams, and not just follow her fiancé’s career. And this, in fact, is another way the cover relates to the book. The stark contrast between the woman (with her rich red lips and intricate dress) and the dark, rich hues of the rest of the jacket speaks to this emergence from the shadows and this journey from darkness to light and clarity. At least, I think so!"


Thanks, Joanne! I love it even more now that I know about all the symbolism behind it. Now if I could just find out what lipstick shade she has on... 


What do you guys think of the 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.





0 Kudos
by on ‎09-21-2010 12:00 PM

I'll have to be honest...as if I'm never....At first I was confused by this picture.  I wasn't sure what I was looking at.  My eye was drawn down to the red lips, and black lace.  I wasn't sure what the image was to the right of that face.  I had to zoom in on the picture...blew it up to a larger image, so I could see exactly what I was supposed to be seeing, (the fault of computer viewing).  But, for some reason, it still doesn't feel right to me.  The balance seems off. 


The author describes the story, the feelings that are given off from her characters.  I saw what she saw in the picture.  But, I was still thrown by how this image is portrayed. 


I know, generally, if an author isn't that well known, the title of the book is at the top, and bolder, and the author's name is at the bottom, in smaller print.  For some reason, in this picture, I felt the author's name should have been at the top, and the title at the bottom.  I think it's a problem of balancing the size of the words with the picture image, and connecting them. The amount of words is distracting me at the top. 


The reflected woman in the mirror is looking down, and the overlay of the blurred woman doesn't seem to have enough contrast...it blends, and the lines in the faces confuse the focal point.  Maybe the mirror isn't big enough, or the lighting is off, or there isn't enough body showing of the woman looking into the mirror, and should be sharpened, and the reflection in the mirror, blurred.   


I think, if I were the designer, I would have played with these images a bit more.  Feeling out the angles and lighting.  I think we can see what we want to see, as the writer of the story, but as a reader, before the story is read...what draws the eye to the page?  What feelings do we get, right off, from that point of view? 


For some reason, this picture gave me the feeling of shame, or guilt.  It's as if this woman couldn't look at herself in the eye.  I'm sorry I couldn't get into this picture the way the author felt about it.



by Blogger Melissa-Walker on ‎09-25-2010 09:44 PM

Kathy, Thanks for your thoughts. I'll tell you what drew me to the cover: The lips, the curls, and the skin. I also love a mirror. I think I immediately wanted to know this woman, and what shadows she was going to emerge from. It's as if we're right on the edge of knowing her, and reading the book is the way to get there. 


I do appreciate your comment. It's interesting to hear how we all look at things differently -- and that makes the book designers' jobs even harder, right? :smileyhappy:

by on ‎09-26-2010 12:12 AM

Yes, Melissa, mirrors are always a sign of reflection, and thoughts untold...Especially with down cast eyes.  The cover designer's job is to feel the story, as the author intends it to be heard.  So many writers can't get that across to those minds who need to know...and you end up with stock photos, and words unsaid..


The face, the curls of the hair, the monochromatic tones blending...become one person.  Yes, I see this image becoming one with the other. I'm persuades by words, whether yours or the authors, but first impressions by the reader, before the reading of the story is important.


The title of the book is, Out of The Shadows.  If I were to design this cover, there would be shadows in the picture.  Not reflections.  But, I'm not the designer, and the author is happy....that's a good thing, right?  :smileyhappy:

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