Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Interview with Adele Griffin:Tighter's Cover Journey

It's HERE!!! 
It's here, it's here, it's here, 

Ahem, sorry about that! I'm just totally overjoyed that Tighter is released today! I don't have to fangirl all alone anymore because YOU can get your hands on a copy right now! So what are you waiting for? If you still need some convincing you can read my review.

In honor of Tighter's release, the stupendous Adele Griffin has written a guest post for all of you! Adele is a National Book Award finalist and has written a whole host of YA and MG novels in a wide variety of genres including contemporary fiction, historical fiction, ghost stories, vampires and witches. She is the queen of the "Tiny book that packs a punch" and has written some of the most memorable characters and chilling stories I've ever read. 

Yesterday I did a cover review for the finished version of Tighter, but today please welcome Adele as she takes you on a journey through some of the covers that were considered first.  

Jacket Journey with Adele Griffin

When it came time to discuss all the possible jackets in the image spectrum for my upcoming novel, Tighter, I knew exactly what I wanted.

Or at least I thought I did.

“Constriction,” I said to my editor, Joan Slattery. “This book is all about tension forced to its breaking point. Maybe wrists bound up, or the font in some kind of knotty rope. Whatever it is, it has to be really scary!”

Joan said she’d speak with the Powers around the editorial, design, and marketing table. Later that month, the first image that was delivered to my inbox was … not scary. In soft-lens focus, and a yellow and blue palette, it depicted a girl running up a staircase (this comp has since been used for another jacket in another publishing house, for another book to which the image seems far better suited). While I was unhappy, the ground I’d planned to hold so firm was now shifting beneath my feet. Was Tighter a gentle and more poignant read for others than for me?

Maybe they weren’t right, but maybe I wasn’t as right as I’d thought. So we decided to open the conversation to wilder possibilities. Another image was proposed, of two people in bed together—though one person seemed to be a figment. Red bed sheets and lots of skin. Very sexy. This image, too, got me thinking. Did people also see this as a racy, sexual book?

Now I wasn’t sure at all about those bound hands. The conversation continued. We knew what we didn’t want—stock images of lighthouses, for one. And windswept beaches, or any surf-and-turf landscape. We also gradually decided we weren’t into water, mirrors, or refracted light, or close-ups of girls’ faces—though some of these were quite haunting, none were quite “it.” We wanted an intimate sense of the main character’s delusion, but I’d come to understand that Jamie Atkinson’s spiral-down also needed a deft touch.

When I first downloaded the jacket that we ultimately selected, I liked it okay, but it wasn’t a thrill. A sepia, shadowy outline of a girl standing and staring through a scrim, touching it—yes, there was atmosphere, but maybe not enough. The magic happened, however, when the image was rotated sideways. Now the girl could not possibly be standing, her uplifted arms marking her ascent. On the horizontal, she is trapped, she is passive and, possibly, unreal. It made all the difference.

The journey to this jacket enthralled me, and reminded me that my own interpretation is not necessarily the definitive visual read. Bound hands and ropes would have been too harsh for what this story is—a suspenseful gothic, but nuanced, with romance and beaches and twisted bed sheets. When I see the final image, I’m also reminded of the importance of the process, and the value of the dialogue. And how glad I am that we didn’t go with a lighthouse.


Thank you so much for stopping by, Adele! Yikes, yes, after seeing that sexy bedroom photo I think bound hands might have given off the wrong impression! It's funny how something as simple as turning a photo on its side can create a completely different atmosphere. The first version of the final photo makes the girl look much more assured and like she's on solid footing. That subtle tweak of turning the picture has the effect of kicking the girl's feet out from under her and makes her much more vulnerable as a result.

And I'm so glad you didn't go with lighthouses, too!

What about you, readers? How did you like seeing the process of selecting a cover? What images would you have thought of based on the jacket description? Which cover do you like the best?  

Click here for more posts from Adele Griffin week!

Click here for a chance to win Tighter and more books by Adele Griffin!



  1. It's so cool to learn about the thought that goes into a cover. I really to like the restriction implied by the hands in this cover. I also liked the double exposed picture of the girl in the blue dress.

  2. Hi :)
    Thank you for the wonderful post on the creation of the cover for TIGHTER. The turning of the picture vertical to horizontal really does make it much better!
    All the best,
    PS - Congratulations on your Release Day for Tighter!

  3. Such a great post.
    I actually kind imagine this book having a different jacket, even after reading the whole process - which always amazes me, I can't even begin to imagine how you go about coming up with a cover concept.

    It is an awesome cover.

  4. I really enjoyed this post. How they ideas come reality!

  5. Alison, I agree about the restriction with the hands. It’s not ropes, but I think it really does capture that feeling of constriction. I think I’d scream my head off if I saw that girl in the blue dress in real life.

    RK Charron, Thanks for following! I hope you enjoy your time here :) I think it’s so cool how something as simple as turning the picture can make such a big change.

    Alex, I can’t imagine going through the process either. I’m so critical of covers, but I doubt I’d be very good at coming up with one. :P

    Yiota, Me too! I’m so glad you enjoyed it :)

  6. Wow! That's so interesting that the cover process took all that work and decision-making! The cover looks amazing turned sideways, and I hadn't even realized that the girl was simply placing her hands on the sheet. When I saw the final cover I thought she was pushing to get out and was trapped. What a difference it all made in the end! What a fun guest post, and I loved the behind-the-scenes look!

  7. I love hearing about the process to getting the right cover and I thing that's a scary cover. She looks like she's trapped in a cocoon. It's very eerie and yes, I just ordered it.


  8. It's really interesting to see how much work goes into making those nice jacket covers. I'm glad they didn't choose to go with the bedroom photo because it would make me think that the novel isn't YA.

  9. T. B., Isn’t it interesting? I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It really does amaze me how different a picture can look when you just turn it on its side.

    Heather, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! The idea of being trapped in a cocoon totally creeps me out!

    A Canadian Girl, I agree, I think the bedroom photo makes it look a lot more adult. Something about relationships, not ghosts.

  10. This interview was absolutely AMAZING! And a ton of people were spreading the tweet on Twitter (inc. me)

    I loved seeing the step by step process. What the author thought, what the pub. thought, the outcome, etc. The final product looks great!

    Thanks for doing such a fantastic review!

  11. A Backwards Story, Oh wow, so that’s where all the Twitter hits are coming from! I’m very out of the loop when it comes to Twitter, so thank you so much for spreading the tweet for me! :D I really appreciate it. This really was a fascinating cover journey. I hope I get to hear more cover journey stories.

  12. I just joined Twitter recently, but I'm learning a lot about it! And it's brought new relationships with bloggers, publishers, and authors. You might want to look into it! Story Siren recently did a post on how to feedburn your blog links straight to Twitter...and then people "re-tweet" them and more people see your links!

  13. A Backwards Story, You just joined? You seem like a Twitter pro! I’ve considered looking into it because I’m sure it really would help bring traffic to my blog, but I’m a little too overwhelmed with life right now. Maybe in the future :) (and then I’m so coming to you to help me learn the ropes!)


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