The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
The life story of a girl born with the wings of a bird.
Foil stamped accents around the edge of the feather on the front cover and the feathers on the spine.
More Than This by Patrick Ness
Featuring a diecut through the case, revealing the title on the endsheets.
Caminar by Skila Brown
Set in 1981 Guatemala, a lyrical debut novel tells the powerful tale of a boy who must decide what it means to be a man during a time of war after witnessing the destruction of his village.
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
Winner of the 2014 John Newbery Medal
Character illustrations by K. G. Campbell.
Below by Meg McKinlay
What happens when you start swimming in the lake that submerged the old half of your town 20 years ago?
Fallout by Todd Strasser
My cover ponders what happens when three families scramble into a bomb shelter made for one…
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
One of my favorite books growing up, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
is the reason I still want to run away and live in a museum to this day. If you haven’t read this book, stop reading this and go get it.
My cover portrays the funky (and mixed-up) files of Lady Basil, combining my other love of card catalogs into some sort of dream cabinet that has various drawers of various sizes.
Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston
This is the nail-biting story of a fifteen-year-old girl who’s a suicide bomber.
World War Z by Max Brooks
Unlike any horror book I've read before, World War Z
is eerily realistic. Positioned as an oral history of the zombie war, the book is made up of short interviews with various people from around the world as they recount their experiences to the author. It's an awesome book which I highly recommend.
For my cover, I've got the zombie hoard approaching from the top, while the humans below run for their lives.
The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
If you were ever a fan of Bill Nye the Science Guy, you should check this one out. In The Disappearing Spoon
, Science magazine reporter Sam Kean takes on the periodic table and tells short funny and interesting tales associated with each of the elements.
For my cover, I used the periodic table as inspiration and flooded the space with random elements, leaving white space to fill in the shape of the disappearing spoon of the title.
Touch by Alexi Zentner
WW Norton - Unused Concepts
is the amazing debut from author Alexi Zentner. As a man returns home on the eve of his mother's death to the mysterious hometown his grandfather helped found, we experience the tall tales of his family's history. Fans of Big Fish
and just about anyone else will love this book. Go read it now.
Here are two concepts that ultimately didn't get used for the paperback printing of the book, both hinting at the isolation to be found in the long winters indoors as well as the mysterious power of memories (via the wispy smoke spilling out of the chimney) that, like the snow outside, tend to pile up larger than life.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
A cover for one of my favorite children’s books of all time, James and the Giant Peach
. Roald Dahl’s tale features title character James, who goes on a wild adventure after a gigantic peach grows in the tree by his house.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
The first in a series, The Eyre Affair
centers around literary detective Thursday Next, who lives in a world where the line between literature and reality becomes increasingly thin, allowing characters in the books and those in “real life” to jump in and out of novels.
When a madman, Acheron Hades, enters the original text of Jane Eyre intent on changing the story forever, Thursday follows him in and tries to contain the chaos he causes.
For my cover, I portrayed a prim and proper copy of Jane Eyre with the story being torn apart and changed by Acheron as Jane Eyre hightails it out of there…
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
I remember reading an article a while back about the reason Bloomsbury released “adult” covers for Harry Potter over in England. It was due to customer demand that adult readers were a bit embarrassed to be seen reading “children’s books” around town. Thus, Bloomsbury released non-illustrated versions of the covers that had simple photographs and a more subdued color-palette.
So it got me thinking. What other popular children’s series would an adult be a bit embarrassed to be seen reading in public? And I immediately thought of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. Not only are they covered in (amazing) illustrations on the outside, but have the extra bonus of being a teeny tiny postcard-sized book, telling those on the subway that yes, you read children’s books, and yes, 200 regular-sized pages is where you max out.
With that in mind, I sought to redesign the series for the self-conscious adult. Using the brilliant photography of Rodney Smith
I ditched the orphans on the cover and instead brought the focus of each to that of the illusive Mr. Snicket, observing the events as they happen, later to be retold in his unique prose. His identity in the stories is always in question, as his relationship with the events is shrouded in mystery. Because of this, he remains hidden from view from the reader, even on the cover.
I chose five of the books to apply the new design to, which you can cycle through above.
Real author of the series, Daniel Handler, had this to say, "It was a pleasure to see my fictional self, representing my fictional self, on the fictional covers of my fictional books."
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
is one of my favorite books. It centers around two magicians (the title characters) as they try to reintroduce magic into 19th century England. Think of it as The Prestige
meets Charles Dickens. And just like the fueding magicians in The Prestige
, the relationship between the two involves twists, betrayals and power struggles.
Because they’re always trying to one-up the other, I decided I would make dual covers, each showcasing one of the magicians, with the other being just out of the picture (and their name considerably smaller) allowing the reader to decide which character they prefer.
Machine Man by Max Barry
is the latest novel by Australian author Max Barry. In it, a scientist named Charlie is involved in an industrial accident. Having his leg replaced with a prosthetic, he starts to wonder, what else could be swapped out and improved?
The final cover features Charlie with some of his new parts with little schematic details and notes around him. I've also put in a few other directions that were discarded.
will be in bookstores August 9.
Max had these kinds words to say about working with me,"Matt Roeser is a genius and produced three distinct concepts for "Machine Man," each brilliant in their own way. He was highly responsive to feedback, both when we wanted him to change something specific and when we asked him to draw on his own creativity. Nothing would make me happier than getting to work with Matt on all future book covers. He's a true professional."
The Game of Thrones Series by George R.R. Martin
This is a new series I recently started (on book 2 now) after hearing lots of great things about it. It’s also being made into an HBO show that debuts this month.
For my covers, I wanted to showcase the idea of these feuding medieval families that are constantly vying for power, but didn’t want to have knights on horses, epic battle scenes and the other visuals that are usually on these types of fantasy novels. So instead, I depicted the idea of house crests and the importance the author puts in each of the families and gave each of the 5 books a distinct color.
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
Jasper Fforde writes some awesomely fun fiction. He creates these slightly (or sometimes drastically) different versions of our world that border on the geniusly bizarre.
In his Thursday Next series, the main character is a literary detective for the Jurisfiction department, which patrols the law inside books. Another of his series is the Nursery Crimes books, which features the investigations of DCI Jack Spratt, where he investigates what really happened in classic nursery rhymes. For a book nerd like me, they’re sort of perfect.
For his latest series, Shades of Grey
, Fforde has created a future version of our world where social class is determined by one’s ability to perceive color. No one can see more than their own color, and no one knows why— there are many unknowns ever since The Something That Happened. It follows the main character of Eddie Russett, a Red, as he beginnings to discover the truth behind the world he lives in.
In the book, when a person turns 20, they take the Ishihara to determine what color and how high of a percentage of it they can see (the more you can see, the higher your rank will be).
Because the Ishihara is an actual test created to determine color-blindness, I used that as the basis for my design, having the title appear in red as Eddie would see it, among a sea of grey.
The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Razorbill - Unused Concept
It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been friends their whole lives. Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail and they decide to install it. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.
By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later.
For my concept, I played with the iconic Facebook thumbs up "Like" symbol. Because Josh and Emma have different reactions and opinions of their future selves, I thought it might be fun to print a run of covers that have the thumbs up and some that have the thumbs down.
The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois
Another one of my favorite children’s books, The Twenty-One Balloons is an adventure tale that I’ll let Wikipedia set up: The story begins with the rescue of Professor William Waterman Sherman, who was picked up by a steamship whilst floating among a strange wreck of twenty deflated gas balloons in the North Atlantic. Sherman, a recently retired schoolteacher, was last seen three weeks ago leaving San Francisco on a giant balloon, determined to spend a year drifting alone. The world waits breathlessly to find out how he could have circumnavigated the globe in record time and landed in the ocean with twenty balloons rather than the one with which he began his journey. After several days’ rest and a hero’s welcome, the professor recounts his journey before a captivated audience.
In my dream world, this would be a limited edition of 100, with each of the 21 balloons on the cover hand-pressed (in differing places each time) making each of the covers unique.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
A mockup for Moby Dick
by Herman Melville featuring the artwork of Jen Lobo
I wanted to take this classic that is often-times perceived to be boring and through unique imagery and a bit of fun with the type, re-excite that book buyer who had previously passed this title by.
Litmus: Short Stories From Modern Science
Litmus is a collection of short scientific essays detailing some of the most important "eureka!" moments in modern science. As there were over 25 authors and scientists that contributed to the plethora of stories, I didn't want one piece of science imagery to overshadow the others.
As a result, I spread science-related icons across the front and back cover, with a gradient that harkens back to the color-changing litmus test paper the title brings to mind.
Inherit the Earth: Beach by Mauricio Bruce
My friend Mauricio has been working on a series of young adult books for the past several years. He recently submitted the first book to Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award where it was chosen as one of 50 semifinalists from amongst 5000 entries.
Regarding the novel, Mauricio writes, “After his father’s unforeseen death, fourteen year old Seth finds himself taking care of his younger sister and supporting his heartbroken mother at a remote beach house. When he starts having nightmares that threaten to take his life, and he finds his mysterious elderly neighbor dead, being the man of the house becomes a dangerous responsibility.
Meanwhile, in a world beneath the waves, Maya and Stela, two shy, young, teenage girls are tasked with saving the fantastic underwater city of Maris from destruction. Yet all is not as it seems as they delve into a mystery set into motion centuries before by forces they’re only beginning to understand. When Seth’s sister vanishes and Maris’s last lights are drowned out, the children despair as the weight of their actions crashes down on them.
As their paths converge, the children discover their missions are one and the same, and that no one is alone.”
You can read the first 5,000 words of the novel and view some of his other stories here
Just as the challenges the main characters face parallel each other, I sought to parallel the two worlds where the story is shifting between (up on the beach and below in the water) for my cover design. The cover for book two, Jungle
, is in the works.