The cover of Ruth Pennebaker's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough intrigued me from glance one. Birds on a wire. One with a wig, one with a scarf, one unadorned. One upside-down. I had to find out more. Here's Ruth to talk about the cover design:

 

"I came up with some pretty banal and inane ideas for a cover. For example, three pairs of women's feet to represent the three main characters in the novel. That's my idea of a great cover, even if it's been done a million times. Sad, isn't it? I just don't have the visual artist or design gene in me.

 

"At my publisher, they were pretty eager to hear my ideas till they realized how bad they were. I basically hung out at a bookstore (Barnes & Noble, in fact, on Broadway on the Upper West Side of NY!) and wrote down the titles of novels whose covers I liked.  I spent so much time looking, I was probably being tailed as a potential shoplifter.   

 

"Luckily, I really liked this cover from the very beginning. It's jaunty and whimsical and offbeat -- just as I'd describe the novel. By this time, I think we were all aware of my artistic limitations, so I didn't say much. But it's like interior decorating: I can't do that, either, but I like to think I have good taste and recognize good decor. With the book cover, I recognized how good it was and how the designer didn't need my advice.

 

"I think the art department took my lack of suggestions to heart -- and rightly so. I really do like the cover. There were almost no changes at all. Or, if there was change, it was so subtle I didn't notice it.

 

"The identifying marks on two of the birds -- hot-pink hair and a scarf -- relate directly to what happens to two of the main characters in the novel. The meaning's hidden till you read the book. So I think you should buy the book immediately."

 

Thanks, Ruth! Time to get to that hidden meaning by looking inside the cover. What do you guys think of this design?

 

 

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, as well as the blogger for readergirlz.com. Her author blog, where Cover Stories originated, is melissacwalker.com.

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