The prolific and poetic Beth Kephart has a new book out that The New York Times Book Review recently called "dreamlike" in a rave review, and the cover of the book conveys that tone as well. Beth is here to share her perspective on how it came about:
"Small Damages will be my fourteenth book, and what an education I’ve had in covers throughout the journey. For my first book, a memoir, I sent an unsolicited photograph to my editor and that was that: no conversation, no debate; the photograph was the jacket image. Oh, I thought, so that is how this happens. Easy peasy.
"Not so much. When, for my second book, also a memoir, I sent a photograph to the editor at a new house, it wasn’t just rejected as a cover possibility; my editor never spoke to me again. I had no idea that suggesting a cover image for a memoir was an offense, I can assure you of that. But you better believe that I learned my lesson.
"Through the years, the books, the genres, the publishing houses, I have been both blessed and a little troubled by the jackets I have been given. I have voiced concerns only when it seemed to me that the proposed jacket was in direct conflict with the nature or tone of the book. I have celebrated when extraordinary jackets appeared in my in-box; the Neil Swaab designs for Dangerous Neighbors (read that Cover Story) and You Are My Only were, for example, celebration worthy.
"When Tamra Tuller of Philomel bought Small Damages, I found myself working with an individual of such integrity and wisdom and a team of such pure and glorious competence that I never grew cover anxious. Small Damages is a book that takes place in southern Spain. It features a high school senior who, pregnant and an embarrassment to her recently widowed mother, has been sent to a cortijo outside Seville to live with an old cook, where she’ll stay until the baby is born. Kenzie, the teen, and Estela, the cook, have a lot to teach each other. The memory of the Spanish Civil War hangs heavy. There is a mysterious boy who lives by the stables out back. There are gypsies and flamenco.
"In short, I had no idea what to expect for a cover. I thought horses might be involved, or a big pot of paella. I made no suggestions. I waited.
"Tamra Tuller, however, had ideas, and all she would tell me, from time to time, is that she was sure that I would like it. Weeks went by, and every now and then Tamra would write, 'We’re very close but not precisely there yet. I can’t wait until you see it.'
"So I waited until one day an email showed up, bearing a link to this glorious cover. The details, the colors, the text treatment, those oranges on the bedspread—of course I fell in ecstatic love. I still feel that way every time I look at this image—which never changed after I saw it—and when my first hard copy of the book arrived last week, with its debossed title, I fell in love all over again. I think the cover for Small Damages is perfect, something that I hope I can say without seeming boastful, for I had absolutely nothing to do with it."
Thank you, Beth! In this cover, I see dreamy Spain, gentle discovery, and a bittersweetness that is hard to capture in an image, but this one does. Lovely.
What do you guys think of this cover?
Melissa Walker is the author of six Young Adult novels, the latest of which is Unbreak My Heart (pictured). Her author blog, where Cover Stories originated, is melissacwalker.com. Follow her on Twitter @melissacwalker.
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