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Posted by Fleur, October 23, 2012

Designing the cover for Dear Scarlett – a guest post by author Fleur Hitchcock

Last month, I received the above image. It’s the final cover for Dear Scarlett, which will come out in February next year, and I think you’ll agree, it’s a pretty lovely cover. What you can’t tell from the picture, is that the tree has sparkly stars, the lock is silver, and the key a silver gilt effect. You also can’t actually feel the texture – it’s smooth and warm and velvety.

But this isn’t the first cover.

We started with a black cover. I liked it – it was moody and mysterious, and it had two elements of the story that were important to the plot – a parcel and a penguin. But perhaps it didn’t actually sum up Scarlett – you see, she’s not really moody and dark, she’s punchy and bright. On this cover, she was also called Scarlet, not Scarlett, because I was half way through revisions, and the spelling wasn’t settled. That cover came in May.

In July, another version whizzed through the broadband and arrived on my desk. Scarlett had turned pink. With the pink came the lock, the sparkles and the cheeky little face. The cat and the tree and the inkblots were fixtures and I was promised a hand written blurb. It sounded nice, but I didn’t really appreciate what it would mean. I liked the pink, but worried that somehow Scarlett, and her readers, were not pink children – not just because of her name. But I was happy enough – if this was the final cover, I certainly wasn’t going to complain.

When in September, the final version came, it felt as if it had all come together. The girl’s face, the key, the cat, the glowing red, and the lively hand written blurb on the back. It was all much better than I’d hoped.

Suddenly it felt as if the book and its cover had made friends, that they knew each other.

All this without Sarah Coleman (the cover illustrator) and me actually meeting each other, or exchanging a word.

I’m sure it’s old news to lots of authors, but the feeling that an artist can get where you’re coming from, and that an editorial team can spend ages trying to get this across to them, is pretty flattering. Personally, I’m thrilled to bits.

Thank you Nosy Crow.

Dear Scarlett is out in February and you can pre-order it online here. Today – for the first time – you can read Chapter One, for free, below.