In Eden City, the Wordless, or illiterate poor, would never even dream of meeting one of the all-powerful Words who run the city-state. Much less running away with one.
When a drop-dead gorgeous girl literally falls in his lap during his routine trash run, seventeen-year-old Tavin Barnes isn’t sure if it’s the luckiest day of his life, or the beginning of the worst. Because Khaya is also the Word of Life, meaning that she could either heal a wound with a touch or command an ivy bush to devour a city block, depending on her mood.
By helping Khaya escape the seemingly idyllic confines of Eden City into Europe beyond, Tavin unwittingly throws himself into the heart of a conflict that is threatening to tear the city apart… if not the world. Eden City’s elite will stop at nothing to protect the shocking secret Khaya hides, and enlists the help of the other Words, each with their own frightening powers—like the ability to spark a fire, raise a flood, or kill with a touch—to bring her back.
To survive, Tavin must confront the mysteries of his past… and risk sacrificing what he cares about most
Did you have any pre-conceived notions about what you wanted your cover to look like?
Like quite a few people, I had at least a vague idea—somewhat dark, no pink or purple, sleek and suggestive of the speculative-fiction nature of the story, no characters’ faces revealed. And then I came up with a couple of specific ideas that ended up being nothing like the cover I have now.
How far in advance from your pub date did you start talking covers with your house?
Well-over a year beforehand. WORDLESS is slated to release August 8th, 2014, and my awesome editor, Brian Farrey-Latz, broached the topic of covers in April 2013. But then, I was set to vanish to do the random commercial-fishing-in-Alaska-thing that I do every summer, so he wanted to talk to me about it before I fell off the edge of the earth for a few months.
Did you have any input on your cover?
Sort of—Brian certainly asked my in-depth opinion, and we were actually on the same page for much this conversation. But in the end, it’s up to the publishing team.
See, before I even showed Brian the dorky cover I made myself in MS Word (and I wouldn’t have, had he never said this), he told me during our brainstorming session: “One thought was a field of letters (almost like a search-a-word puzzle) with the title and your name bolded. It’s an OK idea… it could end up really cool or really meh.” And so I sent him this:
To his credit, he didn’t laugh at me, but perhaps I uninspired that idea right out of him. No, in all seriousness, we also came up with some other ideas, involving a shadowy silhouette of the main character being cast by the block letters “WORDLESS.”
But Brian said anything they tried along either of those lines ended up looking too contemporary. So the team went with something completely different that I didn’t see until it was already done and decided. Good thing I loved it.
How was your cover revealed to you?
My editor sent it to me through email. I couldn’t open the darn thing fast enough, and then I proceeded to carry around my laptop for the rest of the day, staring at it.
Was there an official "cover reveal" date for your art?
Yes, through YABC on October 3rd!
How far in advance of the reveal date were you aware of what your cover would look like?
A couple of months. It was torture.
Was it hard to keep it to yourself before the official release?
(See previous answer.) Kidding. It was a bit difficult, but I “cheated” and showed close family and friends, and also the OneFours on our private forum, so that made it feel less like I was trying to contain a crazed cat inside my chest.
What surprised you most about the process?
That even though my cover didn’t turn out anything at all like I’d imagined (and I have a really active imagination—I was already signing imaginary books with this imaginary cover in my head), I still love it.
Any advice to other debut authors about how to handle cover art anxiety?
Try to trust your publisher. And even after you see your cover, sleep on your immediate opinions… or at least give it a little time. Because here’s how my reaction went:
One second: WHAT?!?
Five seconds: WTF, they didn’t listen to ANY of my suggestions!
Thirty seconds: It’s so… so… GREEN!
One minute: Not sure how I feel about this…
Three minutes: Wow, look at the crazy tendrils of energy, and the combo of metallic and organic in the title font, and the title echoing across the whole thing, almost disintegrating, and the marquee-like style of my name, and…
Five minutes: LOVE.
Much like in relationships (and in my book, thank goodness), love doesn’t always come at first sight. Sometimes it takes a whole five minutes.
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