"I had tons of ideas for the cover, but all half-baked. In fact, one of my favorite ways to procrastinate when I was trying to write (the truth comes out!) was to look through images at the stock photography websites. If nothing else, that exercise taught me how hard it was going to be to capture this book visually.
"Part of problem is that The Other Life is based on the rather supernatural concept of a woman who is able to cross through a portal from her domestic suburban existence to the life she would have had if she stayed single in New York City... yet it's neither science fiction nor truly paranormal. It is, in fact, a pretty grounded story with an element of magical realism. At its core, the book is about choices and the power of love.
"My editor asked if I had any ideas for the cover, but I didn't offer anything specific because I wanted to see what the folks in the art department would come up with. So I simply said that there was a lot of water imagery in the book. (Before becoming a novelist I had a career in marketing and worked with a lot of designers, so I knew that visual artists often thought of things I never could have imagined.)
"The result was stunning, even though that first design was ultimately nixed by the sales department as too emotionally dark. It was a very simple image of a single wedding band set against a slate blue backdrop of slightly sudsy water.
"After that first design got scrubbed, I was shown another cover that I didn't like at all. It was pretty, but I thought it was all wrong for the book--too quiet and sad. (The Other Life covers some tough emotional terrain, but I think it's pretty fast paced and, ultimately, quite hopeful.) So that design, too, was scrapped.
"When I saw the final cover, I think I might have squealed! I certainly gasped, as I think the cover we wound up with is absolutely gorgeous. I couldn't imagine a better book jacket for The Other Life (shown again at right).
"I'll admit that at first glance I thought I was looking at snowflakes. But it only took a nanosecond for me to realize those were daisies falling from the sky, and I found that brilliant, evocative and mesmerizing. What a moment!
"What I love about the cover is that it doesn't make any attempt at a literal interpretation of the book. But it hits all the right emotional notes--there's conflict and magic in this image, but also hopes and dreams."
Thanks, Ellen! Magic is the perfect word for it. The daisy snowflakes won my heart instantly.
What do you guys think?
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 awkward-stage blog Before You Were Hot, as well as the blogger for readergirlz.com. Her author blog, where Cover Stories originated, is melissacwalker.com.
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