This Cover Story was requested by the lovely Holly Cupala, and author Pearl North kindly obliged to answer my questions about the cover of her book Libyrinth. It's set in the future, where technology masquerades as magic and wars are fought over books! Here's Pearl:
"The art departments at most publishers have their own ideas about how to package a book to make it appealing to potential customers. That's not my area of expertise so I don't even try to anticipate what the book will look like.
"I am very fortunate in that my editor James Frenkel always keeps me in the loop when the cover art is being designed. He asked me for descriptions of characters and settings from the book, and even sent me samples of work from the artist under consideration. I also had the opportunity to give feedback on an early draft of the cover art. So, while the overall design and subject for the cover were decided by my editor and Tor's art department, I did have a voice in the process.
"I had seen a first draft of the cover, so I knew what to expect in general terms. The first thing that hit me was how much more polished and refined it looked compared to what I had seen before, which stands to reason. And then I thought how serene and confident Haly, my main character, looked. She looked like someone with the inner strength to do what she does in the novel, and I was satisfied. It wasn't until all that sank in that I even noticed Nod the imp perched upon her shoulder. I love that about the picture, how it gives you more the longer you look at it. Finally, the last thing to emerge for me was how the picture makes visual something that is completely non-visual. Haly hears the voices of books. They speak their contents to her. On the cover of LIBYRINTH, she has her eyes closed, and her face is lifted up as pages from books flutter down around her. She's listening to them, and you can see it.
"I knew from past experience with Tor's art department that they really listen to author feedback. On a previous book, they had asked for some descriptions of some of my characters. One of them was a snake and they did the pattern of his scales exactly the way I had described them, so I knew they were listening. In LIBYRINTH, the feedback I offered after the first draft was more the sort of thing anyone might point out, so I can't say if the changes were because of my input, or that of my editor or the artist's own judgment at play.
"In initial conversations with my editor, he had a very different concept for the cover. It was intially going to be Haly out on the Plain of Ayor, on a horse, with the Libyrinth in the background. I suggested putting her in among the shelves of the Libyrinth, or even just having some books in her saddlebag, because books are such an important part of the story. I don't know who decided what or what the reasons were behind it, but when the first draft of the cover art came, there she was, in among the books in the Libyrinth.
"In the first draft of the cover, Haly's eyes are open and her expression was a bit different. And Nod was not in that picture. He came as a surprise in that final version, especially since even then, I didn't spot him right away. He's subtle.
"The artist who did the cover for LIBYRINTH is Melanie Delon. I do not know if she worked off of a model for Haly, my main protagonist. However, I can say with some degree of certainty that she did not have a live model for Nod, who is an imp. :)
"I think the cover is a wonderful ambassador for my story. I'm thrilled with it."
I didn't notice the imp either, at first! And I do love the covers you keep finding new things in as you look at them. I also like the soft green glow of this cover. What do you guys think?