Valentines of All Varieties

Here are the Valentines that Q made for the kids in her class (okay, I did the lettering part):

So very much fun. She can’t wait to head to school tomorrow and pass them out to “all her friends.”

Having a kid makes Valentine’s Day so much more fun — SB and I don’t do anything for the holiday, but now that Q is in school we get to have fun with red and pink pens and heart-shaped stickers. Sparkly heart shaped stickers — is there anything better?

Q and I can testify: the answer is NO.

Valentine the second: I’m so excited that today is the day the Beautiful Creatures movie is coming out. I cannot wait to see Ethan and Lena on the big screen!

And of course, the reason you’re all really here. Let us discuss my beautiful, early Valentine — my brand new cover.

Oh you lovely, lovely, blue starry thing. Oh you perfect, pale-haired Persis. And the stars. And the waves. And the dress.

Star-Swept is my ninth book, and my favorite cover. I love how beautifully it ties into and reflects the design on For Darkness Shows the Stars, while clearly reflecting a story and character of its own.

And I love, love all the choices made for the model of Persis. She looks like Persis, guys — she really, really looks like Persis. She looks so much like Persis that I took to staring at this photo during one round of revisions, communing with her character that way.

When an author writes a book, she has hopes for what the cover will look like — and this is very much like what I pictures when I first conceived of Star-Swept. That never happens, guys. Trust me on that one. And the story behind the making of the cover was such a remarkable feat of serendipity — the photographer knew the perfect model, a teenaged daughter of a friend, and lived next door to a wig maker who could put together that hair… we never thought we could get all those elements together, never thought that if we did it would look good to someone who didn’t know anything about the story, which of course is what a cover is designed to do. For all that you hear readers complain about how such-and-such element is not exactly as described in the book, you have to remember, that a book cover is not designed for people who have read the book. It’s designed to intrigue people who happen to walk by it in a bookstore or see it online. Ballgown and crazy yellow/white dreadlocks? Not two elements people are expecting to see together.

And yet they did it. And it’s AWESOME.

Finally, the obligatory word about race, and the evergreen topic of its depiction on covers. The reason this picture is a photo shoot, is because apparently it’s really, really hard to find stock photos of girls of South east Asian or Pacific Islander descent wearing ballgowns (or even blue jeans). You want ones of them wearing bikinis (or grass skirts, which whole ‘nother conversation)? No problem. And that’s a real problem.

Star-Swept is a book about disguises, about surfaces, about how the way a person looks make you cast judgment on them before they ever open their mouths. As such, Persis (and her wardrobe) are described often and in minute detail, because the way she looks is central to the storyline in a way that makes her different from any other character I’ve ever written (with the possible exception of Astrid post-transformation).

I’m really lucky that my publisher was able to do a photo shoot for this particular book. Other publishers, other authors, other books are not that lucky. And while I’ve always thought of the cover of For Darkness as being a bit metaphorical (stars shining through her blue starry skin, galaxies shimmering through her dress), the cover of Star Swept is actually pretty literal, based on actual scenes, outfits, and settings in the book.

Which might be why it’s my favorite. 😉

So, yeah, I’m madly in love with this cover. I think it does everything a cover is supposed to do (i.e., draw the reader who knows nothing about the book into its prettiness) and more, too, because actual readers of the book can see a pretty accurate illustration of what they’ve read.

Of course, there will be the complaints from those who think the cover is too girly, and doesn’t draw in male readers, though the book is all spy capery with techy gadgets and genetically engineered animals and sexy girls and other things boys love, and apparently, frocks and girls on covers just cootie that whole thing up and make boys incapable of reading it. Which is too bad. And maybe we should ask ourselves why a cover depicting futuristic tech and spycraft doesn’t preclude girly frockaliciousness, but the opposite is true.

Because, actually, that’s what my book is about. It’s about the fact that no one would ever, ever think Persis was a genius badass spy, because she does her hair and cares about fashion and, most terrible and damning of all, she is a girl.

Posted in feminism, other writers, Queenie, star-swept

9 Responses to Valentines of All Varieties

  1. Thanks for being nice about Cover Snark. It’s really all in fun and to gather together all of the covers, so people can check out the ones they missed. I’ve updated the post with a link to your post. I suspect I’ll really like the cover when I get to read the book, because it’s wonderful that you managed to get everything together so that she looks exactly like your character.

    I totally agree with you on “girly” covers. Catering to male readers because it’s socially acceptable for women to pick up a cover with punching and blood, but not for men to pick up a hot pink or pretty dress or canoodling cover, is not the answer. How about we fix our messed up double standards instead?

    • Diana says:

      I have no problem with cover snark — or book snark, for that matter. Part of this brave new world of the internet is that everyone gets a public opinion! Not every cover or every book can please all of the people all of the time. All we can hope for is to be honest and try hard and hope to hook as many readers as we can.

      The “girly” thing drives me nuts, and has for my whole career, which is why I embrace having this conversation with a book that has that as one of its themes. Because we could focus on some other aspect of the story to make the cover more palatable to boys, but it doesn’t make Persis any less girly or frockalicious in the actual book, and it doesn’t change the fact that she uses those aspects of herself to make people dismiss her as weak and silly.

      • I love commenting on your blog because you have the best Captcha ever. (Did I just say that?)

        Very mature attitude. 🙂 I generally try not to be too snarky in most of my actual reviews. Cover Snark is sort of my outlet for that. Every week there are people who love and add ones I didn’t care for, and I add plenty of the books I don’t like the covers for to my to-read as well.

        True. What’s the point in hiding the girliness? If the boy is that opposed to a girly heroine, tricking him into picking it up probably won’t change anything in the long run. Perhaps they need to do a series of those READ posters with manly men reading “girly” books. The Rock rocking some Meg Cabot. Some sports hero with the Soul Screamers books. We need to be showing that there is NOTHING wrong with boys liking these books. I think once they read some, they’ll find that they enjoy at least some of them. My dad, for example, loves a lot of the YA books I’ve had him read, many of them more targeted to a female audience, like Throne of Glass, Shadow and Bone, and Touch of Power.

  2. Angie Kroll says:

    Holy cow, Diana – it’s amazing!

    Does the publisher send you blown up covers that you can frame & hang in your office?

    Here’s why I’m asking – with the exception of if I am lucky enough to get to see you again at ’13 DragonCon, I’ll probably get it from Kindle. I’ve reached the tipping point that I’d rather have things electronically than in book form because of convenience. (Reading Ally Condie’s ‘Reached’ right now – that sucker is HUGE!)

    But, if I had a the cover for you to sign, even if it mirrors something like an actor gives as a headshot, I’d hang it up next to my autographed picture of John Barrowman. It’s the only thing I miss about physical books.

    • Diana says:

      Well, I *will* see you at D*C, so there’s one good thing. They don’t usually send me blow up copies, but I have had some mad (I really need to get on doing it to the rest of my covers). Which is to say, it can be arranged.

      Additionally, wow, you met John Barrowman? Was it at D*C, too?

  3. Angie Kroll says:

    In my one and only day @ DC, I met Jane Espensen & got a pic with her & the cast of Husbands, saw the Torchwood Panel, stood in line & paid $55 for John Barrowman’s autograph where I started to get teary, fought my way through 1K Bronies & Pegasister to meet this amazing author who wrote my favorite book of last year….can’t seem to remember her name though…something with stars, maybe? Then, dropped too much money on Dr. Hooves & Portal t-shirts for my kids, met up with that author at her booth…what was her name again…and had a great conversation with the author’s mother who was so very, very nice, and was pushing around a stroller with an adorable child who had a look on her face that said, ‘I’m gonna RULE this place some day!’

    Yep..I’d say that deserves a trip back to Atlanta!

    • Diana says:

      Oh, man, you MET Jane E? SO JEALOUS. I went to her panel, and I’ve tweeted with her, but never met her.

      Thank you so much. Q will not be at DC’13. I think it was a little much for her (and my mom), but we will. She is growing into a gorgeous little geeky girl, though.

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