Hello, friends! The day is here!
Well, actually, the day was supposed to be Monday, but it looks like the Harper Fall catalog got fed out to retailers early and the cover appeared on a retail site near you . . . but here’s what I was going to say on Monday:
It’s time to reveal the absolutely stunning cover created for BEFORE SHE IGNITES, the first book in the Fallen Isles Trilogy.
As always, credit goes to the amazing art team at HarperCollins. Joel Tippie is the designer behind this one. He also did the Incarnate covers, so when I heard he was on board for this one, I knew the cover was in good hands.
So, here she is!
Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.
But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.
Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.
No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.
Jodi Meadows’s new Fallen Isles series blazes with endangered magic, slow-burn romance, and inner fire.
Isn’t. She. Incredible??
Seriously, I could not be happier with this cover. Let’s talk about how perfect it is!
In the Fallen Isles, Mira is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful people in existence, which meant we needed just the right model – one who could rock a dress and light you on fire with a glance. And Jonelle Alert is perfect for this. (She gave me permission to identify her; the link is to her Instagram for further admiring! Please be cool though.)
Also: she looks like the Mira described in the book. My priority for choosing a model was that she represents the character accurately, not just in beauty, but in skin color as well. (I was really concerned about the potential for whitewashing, or that—because of her skin color—there wouldn’t be a girl at all. We’ve seen these problems before.) But! Here she is, and I’m so incredibly happy to have her.
2. Her flower crown.
Look closer. That crown is glowing! In fact, it almost looks like it’s ready to . . . ignite??
3. The typeface.
I feel like I watched this typeface evolve. Every time I received a new comp, I studied the letter details to see how everything grew more and more scaly. And that S! I love the way it winds around her. It looks like a dragon tail, doesn’t it?
4. The moons.
We went through a ton of revisions on this cover to make sure it signals that this is a fantasy book about an awesome girl. We got the girl right away, and the typeface helps signal fantasy, but we still felt it was missing something. . . . Then my agent recalled the sister moons, and once those were added to the tropical background, we finally felt the fantasy look was complete.
Why moons? Well, there are two moons in the world. But they’re also symbolic of two important dragons. Mira and her best friend Ilina each have a small dragon (drakontos raptus), one gold and one silver, like the moons. It’s a sort of indirect symbolism that, even when you don’t know about the tiny dragon sisters, still sends a strong fantasy signal.
A lot of people ask how much input I have with my covers. That answer is . . . complicated.
For Incarnate, when my editor asked what I wanted, I said, “Not a face close-up!” (because there were so many at the time, and I didn’t see how mine could stand out), and then that was exactly what I was given. (It turns out I love that cover, so it’s a good thing I don’t design my covers.) For Orphan Queen, I said, “How about a girl in a gown with a weapon?” expecting to get exactly the opposite, but I did indeed get a girl with a weapon. (And I love her!)
So I wasn’t sure what to expect when we started talking about covers for BSI. I sent a list of different types of covers I like – some object-driven, some with people – and when they said we’re going with a figure, I said great! As long as she matches the description of the character and she’s not dead/drowning/cropped in strange ways. I was actually really happy about this choice, because all my books have beautiful girls on them.
After we found the perfect model, I was sent a file full of dresses. Yep! Dresses! I’d never been involved in this part before, so I was super super excited/nervous. But I chose the dresses I thought would best fit both the world and the model, and the next thing I knew, my editor was sending me a few behind-the-scenes pictures of the photo shoot. And yes! They used the dresses I picked!
Friends, I love this cover so much. I feel like it really fits in well with the covers I’ve had for other books. They’re all going to look so beautiful together on the shelf. I hope you agree!
If you’d like to preoreder BEFORE SHE IGNITES, you can do that!
And you can add it to your Goodreads TBR.
First, so many people have said so many nice things about the cover. Thank you! I’m happy you like it! I love it, too.
A few people have mentioned they see this as an important cover, because it has a Black girl in a dress. That’s what I want to talk about. I didn’t realize when the cover was being designed (that’s my privilege), but this is the first time a big publisher has this kind of cover.
It shouldn’t be the first time.
The first time a major publisher designed a YA cover with a Black model in a gown, it should have gone to a Black author.
Again, me not realizing that hadn’t happened yet: that was my white privilege at work.
The fact that mine came first is a symptom of the problems in publishing, and who publishing is designed to work for. By the time I knew what was at stake with this cover and the timing, the model had already been hired and her photos taken. At that point, changing the cover would have meant telling a Black model that she couldn’t be on my cover because she’s Black.
I hope it’s obvious why I wouldn’t do that.
Dhonielle Clayton told me I should say all this upfront, but I resisted because I couldn’t think of a way to do that without seeming preemptively defensive or like I wanted a pat on the back. So I just didn’t talk about it. Now I see that was the wrong decision, because this hurts people. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.
There is a cover like this coming from a Black author. I truly wanted THE BELLES to be first; publication schedules conspired against us. But when her cover is shared, THAT will be a Moment. THAT will be important.
You can be sure that I’m going to sing THE BELLE’s praises, and recommend it far and wide. (I’ve already read it; I know it’s wonderful.)
I will continue to buy, read, blurb, and promote books by marginalized authors.
Last notes: If you loved the cover and it’s meaningful to you, I’m glad. I don’t want to dismiss your feelings, only acknowledge the issues. And I hope that when you see the cover for THE BELLES coming up, those feelings are magnified by a thousand.
If you love the BSI cover and feel the urge to defend it/me to anyone: please don’t.
Thanks for your time.