Monday, April 3, 2017

Bringing a Vision to Life

A post by Mary Fan
Hey everyone! As some of you may already know, I have a new book coming out this August from Snowy Wings Publishing :-). It's called STARSWEPT, and it's a YA sci-fi romance about a viola-playing girl whose world is upended when she encounters an alien boy. It's a combination of my two favorite things: old music and outer space. So when it came to the cover, I wanted something that conveyed both.

Now, Snowy Wings Publishing isn't a traditional publisher. It's an indie publishing co-op, which means we're all doing our own thing under one banner. We have to adhere to certain guidelines to meet the co-op's quality standards, but otherwise, we have total creative freedom. Which means I get to be in charge of my own book cover.

I wrote the first draft of STARSWEPT back in 2013, which feels like a million years ago. Since then, the poor thing's been through the wringer. It went to beta readers, got revised, got signed with an agent, got revised more, got a revise and resubmit from an editor, got revised yet again, got rejected anyway, and sat sadly on my hard drive for an eternity while more rejections poured in, until finally, it found a home with Snowy Wings. What a journey. And throughout the whole thing, I've known what I wanted the cover to look like. Of course, I knew if it got a traditional deal, I'd have little say over the cover, but since that's no longer the case, I had license to bring this vision to life exactly the way I wanted it.

First of all, I knew I wanted the cover to feature the main character, Iris Lei. Partly because I'm just a fan of characters on covers in general, and partly because it was super important to me to have an East Asian girl on the cover of a genre book (think about the last time you saw an East Asian face on a sci-fi/fantasy cover... or any cover that wasn't Memoirs of a Geisha). Secondly, I wanted her to be holding her instrument. And thirdly, there would be STARS.

Here's the thing: There aren't a whole lot of stock photos featuring East Asians. And there are none whatsoever that depict violas. Plenty of violins, but no VIOLAS. Of course, the only real difference is that a viola is slightly bigger, and pretty much no one would be able to tell the difference. But *I* could (I'm a violinist), and it would have bugged me to no end if I misrepresented my character's instrument. Especially since it's pretty central to the book.

So I organized my own photo shoot for the cover. And it was underwater... with the weightlessness of water simulating the weightlessness of space. The model was my kid sister, Angel Fan, who initially got the gig because of nepotism (hey, she's my sister!), but actually turned out to be uniquely qualified (1. She plays the viola 2. She's a dancer and excellent at posing 3. She's a skilled swimmer and a trained diver and therefore comfortable with being underwater... oh, and P.S. She's got the right look, as in young and East Asian).

Here's a pic of Angel right before we began shooting...

We spent a whole day at a diving school in Long Island, and it was a blast! Over 400 images were taken... and I somehow managed to pick just one for the cover. Though theoretically, I could now write over 400 books in the series with a different photo for each cover. Oh, and the image in the background of the announcement up there? That's one of the test shots from the shoot :-)

Anyway, after all that, the book will be coming out on August 29! And I'll be revealing the results of that crazy cover process on June 7... Sign up below if you'd like to help me unveil it!


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I want to see all the proofs. I love your vision for this.

Cheryl Oreglia said...

What an incredible journey this story has been on, endured, and eventually triumphed over! I can't wait for the debut. I love your speaks volumes. I look forward to holding a copy of your book in August.

Mary Fan said...

Thank you! :-D

Mary Fan said...

Thank you so much!

Carrie Beckort said...

I'm so excited for you, Mary! I can't wait to see how it all comes together!

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