Emily Wing Smith's debut novel, The Way He Lived, tells six stories in six voices, and they all manage to exist within one reality. Her final title came at the end of the writing process, and it helped inform the cover design. Here's Emily to tell that tale:
"I began writing The Way He Lived drawing heavily on the nursery rhyme 'Monday’s Child is Fair of Face' (it appears on the first page of the book). Because of this, my working title was Sunday’s Child. I had no idea what would be the right cover to match with such a title, so I never envisioned any 'fantasy covers.' The Way He Lived was proposed as a title around the same time the cover was designed, and I thought the words and pictures meshed beautifully.
"I was expecting to get zero input on the cover, because I’d heard from other authors that was pretty standard. So I was surprised when my editor asked me if I had any ideas. As I mentioned, I didn’t really—the only thing I was adamant about was having a photo versus an illustration.
"As a debut novelist, I had no idea what to expect when my publishers sent me that first jpeg. What if I hated it? Was there anything I could do? Mostly, though, I was just curious. How did they choose to convey this story through an image?
"And honestly, when I saw the cover I was thrilled! I loved the photo strip. I’ve always been a sucker for those photo booths.
"Little known fact: In the area where I live, it’s customary to include a photo of the happy couple when sending wedding announcements. Getting my picture taken professionally is one of my least favorite things, so instead my husband-to-be and I went to the dilapidated old Kmart (the only place in town where a photo booth still existed) and took two strips of photos. We chose the best strip and included it with our invitation.
"The cover is made up of a collection of stock images the designer put together in a strip. My editor told me to be on the lookout for the same photos used in other contexts, but I haven’t seen anything so far!
"I love having several different shots of Joel because it fits so nicely with the idea behind the book—how all these characters see different sides to Joel, different parts of him and who he was.
"When one of my friends saw the last picture on the strip, she said, 'Wow, don’t you think he looks a little…effeminate in that one?' and I just shrugged it off. I hoped she’d realize that was part of the point once she read the book. My brother, an artist, said the pose in the bottom photo reminded him of the portraits of Jesus Christ in the Middle Ages. I still love that idea."
Thanks, Emily! I love the range of emotions expressed in this cover, the range of personalities even. And I like the lack of color -- it gives the cover a timeless feel.
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 new awkward-stage blog Before You Were Hot. Her author blog, where Cover Stories originated, is melissacwalker.com.
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