Happy Monday everybody! Today we have the fantastic Dahlia Adler here to reveal the cover of Under The Lights, book two in the Daylight Falls YA dramedy and companion novel to her debut: Behind The Scenes. Dahlia’s brought Maggie Hall with her and together they are going to give us some insight into their cover design process.
I’m so, so excited to share this cover, which I am absolutely in love with, for several reasons. For one, duh – how freaking cute are those girls?? For another, it was created by one of the best, most talented people on the planet. A lot of people know Maggie Hall for being the author of the amazing upcoming international YA thriller THE CONSPIRACY OF US, but she also happens to be my CP, and a seriously talented designer.
Maggie’s actually done a bunch of things for me before, including graphics for two of my blog series and a logo for “Daylight Falls,” the teen dramedy featured in both BEHIND THE SCENES and UNDER THE LIGHTS. She also happened to have made me a few sample covers for various books last year, just to play around. (Fun fact: We actually almost used one, but that same day, I went to a bookstore and discovered Lauren Conrad had a second series none of us had known existed, and the covers were too similar. Dammit, LC!) So when we needed a new designer for our vision of UNDER THE LIGHTS, both my fabulous editor, Patricia Riley, and I immediately jumped to “MAGGIE. YES. MAGGIE.”
And obviously, Maggie did not disappoint! But it wasn’t an easy task. There were two major things we desperately wanted when it came to this cover: 1) No whitewashing. Van’s Korean-American, and the lack of non-white representation on YA covers is pathetic enough as it is. 2) Two girls. This is a Romance between two girls, and we wanted that to be clear from the get-go, especially because frankly, it’s pretty explicit in the book. There are so many hetero YA romances with kissing covers, or almost-kissing covers, but when it comes to f/f romances, as Tirzah Price pointed out in a great blog post recently, it’s alllll about the hands. (Which, irony, but nevertheless.) I happen not to be a fan of full-on kissing covers (my #1 request for my BtS cover was that the couple not be kissing), but I wanted something that was every bit as romantic and adorable as hetero couples get without a second freaking thought.
So, two girls, who are clearly into each other, one of whom is Asian-American. Surely there’s an endless abundance of stock photos of that, right? Hahahahahahaha okay but this is why Maggie is so awesome. And she’s joining me for this reveal to talk about how she made it work!
Before I talk about the cover, let me tell you a story. Dahlia first sent me this book while I was in Marrakesh. All around me were the bells of the monkey-charmers and the smell of schwarma and the lure of Moroccan architecture—but when my husband wanted to go out, all I could do was wave him away with a, “Shh! You will never guess what Van just did!”
UNDER THE LIGHTS is sweet—and it’s steamy. It’s young Hollywood and family drama and a girl discovering herself. (And let’s not forget Josh! Though Van and Bri are the stars of the cover, those of us who were obsessed with Josh in BEHIND THE SCENES will not be disappointed with his turn in UtL!)
So obviously I jumped at the chance to give it a cover, and especially to represent one of my absolute favorite YA couples. As Dahlia mentioned, though, and as any cover designer knows, either a photo shoot (which wasn’t in the cards) or getting the right stock photo is the first step to a great people-centric cover, and this one wasn’t easy. It turns out there isn’t nearly the depth and breadth of stock photos representing couples diverse in either sexuality or ethnicity as there is of white, heterosexual couples—who would have guessed? (/sarcasm)
But we wouldn’t be discouraged, even when we did manage to find some cute ones, and they just were not quite right. (“Are you sure Bri doesn’t wear a hat?” I must have emailed Dahlia a thousand times, because apparently stock photographers think it’s in the contract that one half of any girl-girl couple must wear a fedora.)
And then—jackpot. Here was an adorable couple: they were posed romantically but not as big-kissy-faces, and they were seriously adorable. Except…they were both white. We knew we wouldn’t be whitewashing the cover, so what could we do? That’s when we got creative. Luckily, we were able to find plenty of stock photos of lovely Asian-American girls. And luckily, Photoshop exists. So yes, it’s true: our star couple is an amalgam of multiple photos!
Just like Van and Bri, this cover faced some obstacles just because of its diversity, but we’re so happy we finally got it right. I can’t wait for everyone to read Dahlia’s amazing book, and Van and Bri (and Josh!)’s amazing story.
Hahaha Maggie’s very sweet to say “we” got creative, but my creativity starts and ends with word-type-things. (Usually ends, clearly.) I feel so, so lucky that she was able to so closely mirror what Van and Bri actually look like, with a couple who’s obviously a couple, and with no freaking fedoras. I love Van and Bri, and Josh (who admittedly got a little shafted on the cover, but that’s what Pinterest is for), and this cover, and Maggie, and Patricia, and everyone who read BEHIND THE SCENES, and who will read UNDER THE LIGHTS, and the fabulous ladies at Cuddlebuggery for having me—thank you, thank you, thank you! I hope you guys love both the book and the cover as much as I do!
And, now, for the cover reveal…
Under the Lights
From: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Published: June 3o 2015
Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents’ wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls…opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he’s trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he’s in the spotlight—on everyone’s terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.
Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents’ disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she’s painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van’s life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she’ll have to choose between the one thing she’s always loved…and the person she never imagined she could.
Anybody up for a giveaway? Of course you are! Dahlia Adler is kindly giving away a copy of Behind the Scenes and an ARC of Under the Lights to one lucky US participant!
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