BC: Meet Jenny Torres Sanchez, crazy-talented author of THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING CHARLIE, and the soon-to-be-released DEATH, DICKINSON, AND THE DEMENTED LIFE OF FRENCHIE GARCIA. We’re going to chat about book covers and other good stuff, but first, Jenny will tell us about our cyber hike.
JTS: This is a picture I took of some trees while in North Carolina this October. We always go somewhere north of Florida during fall because we don’t get much fall weather down here. I love the change of colors and big tall trees and I especially love the view when they’re towering over me like this. I like their grandness and beauty. It makes me feel small in a good way.
BC: The cover of DEATH, DICKINSON, AND THE DEMENTED LIFE OF FRENCHIE GARCIA is so unique. A huge amount of YA covers have photographs of beautiful, angsty girls in ball gowns. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I love the originality (and the font!) of your cover. And all the clues…especially the keeled over Emily Dickinson in the corner. Can you tell us about the book, and how the cover design process works? Do you, as the author, have any input in the design?
JTS: I was really excited when my editor asked me to come up with a list of icons or spot art that could be incorporated into the cover and would be meaningful to the Frenchie’s story. Authors don’t get much say, if any, in their cover art and I felt really lucky to have some participation in the process. But I was amazed when I saw the cover and how perfectly the design team translated Frenchie’s story in it. I’m totally and completely in love with everything about it. It’s just incredibly cool to see someone create something in another media that so perfectly captures the mood and tone and vibe of something you wrote. And come on, a keeled over Emily Dickinson? How cool is that!
BC: Let’s not leave Charlie out of this conversation. The cover of your first novel, THE DOWNSIDE OF BEING CHARLIE, has a totally different vibe, as it uses a real person. The boy in the photo really captures Charlie’s sweetness and his vulnerability. I love that only his eyes show, so the reader can still imagine “their” own Charlie. Was it like an out of body experience to see the cover design on your very first book? And how did it work with finding the right “Charlie?”
JTS: Oh, man, it really is like an out of body experience. I think one of the coolest parts of the publishing process is seeing that cover for the first time because it makes it all so real. You can imagine your book sitting on the shelves—this (or some version of this) is what it will look like. It’s pretty amazing. I really like that a real photo was used for Charlie’s cover because photography is his escape from his real life, so it’s very fitting. Interestingly, though, the first cover they sent me for The Downside of Being Charlie actually had a different boy on the cover, he was tougher looking, very fierce, with a hard look in his eyes. It was a great cover, but my agent and editor and I agreed it wasn’t really Charlie. Charlie is much more vulnerable, shy, trying to hide from the world, so they found a different boy and I think he’s a better reflection of the character.
BC: Can you give us a hint about what you’re working on now, or is it top sekrit?
JTS: Hmmm, I’m not sure if I can talk about it much . . . I don’t think anyone will jump me if I do so I’ll give you an appropriately vague unsatisfying answer. 😉 I’m working on something totally different than either of my books so far. I’ve focused on contemporary up to this point, but I’m having a little fun with a story set in the 1920s. It’s cool and pretty different, but there’s still a good dose of dysfunction and characters trying to figure out who they are and their place in the world, which is a common thread in my stories.
BC: Ooh, I love that era, and now I’m so intrigued. Thanks heaps for sharing your experience, Jenny! I can’t wait to get my mitts on Frenchie. When is it available?
JTS: Thanks so much to you, Beth. I’m really excited for Frenchie to make her way out there in the world and for readers to share in her story. Release date is May 28, 2013, but you can preorder now and/or add it on Goodreads.
Here’s more scoop on Jenny and her books: