I’m thrilled to reveal the cover for Mindee Arnett’s debut YA novel, The Nightmare Affair. Finding the right cover was quite an involved process, so we thought we’d share a little bit about how we reached the final product. It was a collaborate process between Mindee, her agent Suzie Townsend, and myself as editor—and of course, Seth Lerner, the art director for Tor Teen. We are all enthusiastic about the series, and were very focused on finding the right direction for this debut.
Seth had the brilliant idea of working with artist Kate Forrester, who specializes in laser cut paper illustrations. We went through several rounds to find the perfect cover, but each piece of art was amazing in its own right. She’s incredibly talented, and we were thrilled to work with her.
Now on to the covers, and our thought process for each!
Whitney: Too Arthurian—the type treatment and phoenix are beautifully cut, but it just has more of a medieval tone than a contemporary paranormal adventure. On to the next!
Whitney: “Too dark.”
I absolutely love the type on this. Isn’t it just so beautiful and intricate? But this cover screams dark, angst-y read, which The Nightmare Affair is not. Again, on to the next!
Whitney: “Just right!”
We knew we could play around with color, so we were really looking at the design features, at this point. This cover incorporates several elements in the book…a graveyard, trees, and a phoenix. It’s intriguing, evocative, and fun.
But it still seemed to be missing something.
Suzie: I love everything about this one, but also thought it was missing something—Dusty. As the main character of the novel, her voice and personality are really what sucked me into the story. I thought it would work a little better if we included her somehow in the cover.
Whitney: Ah, much better. Adding the silhouette of a girl to the cover makes it clearer that this is a YA novel, not an adult novel. But it’s a bit one-dimensional. This girl could be anywhere…in front of a gated neighborhood, in front of a school, in front of a park. But she’s supposed to be in front of a graveyard—so we decided to do away with the gate entirely, and came up with this:
Whitney: I saw this and knew that this was “The One.” The graveyard gives the cover such depth, and the phoenix—an important element in the story—becomes a prominent figure. It’s sassy and fun, but also dark. Dusty is half-nightmare, after all.
Mindee: When I saw this I was completely floored by how intricate and beautiful it was, and how it captures the spirit of the book almost perfectly. It’s spooky and whimsical and super fun. My only concern upon seeing it was the girl appeared a little too young and also a little out of her time. There’s a definite Nancy Drew throwback feel here that I love, but I wanted to soften the “old-timey” feel just a little.
Whitney: And here we are! The final cover. And what a gorgeous cover it is.
Mindee: Agreed! The change in the girl really reflects the sassiness of the main character. She looks modern but classy. It’s perfect!
And now that you’ve all seen the cover, here’s a quick description of The Nightmare Affair, for our curious readers:
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.
Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.
Then Eli’s dream comes true.
Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.
Whitney Ross is an Associate Editor at Tor Books. She is proud to have edited The Nightmare Affair, due out in Winter 2013.
Mindee Arnett is the debut author of The Nightmare Affair. You can find her online at MindeeArnett.com