Behind the Cover – Marci Senders
(A Thousand Nights, by E. K. Johnston, and Passenger by Alexandra Bracken)

by Diana Sousa

BehindTheCover

And it’s time for a double interview! Marci Senders designed the covers of A Thousand Nights, by E. K. Johnston, and Passenger, by Alexandra Bracken, both published by Disney-Hyperion.

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How did you become a designer? Was it an area you always wanted to explore, or did it simply happen?

I always knew I wanted to be an artist in some form. I went to Tyler School of Art of Temple University. Even when I took painting or printmaking classes, my projects either became books or had some form of typography in it leading me to graduate to get my BFA in Graphic Design. My senior portfolio was very young and playful since I ended up hand drawing most of my projects. After graduating I accepted a Junior Design job at Alloy Entertainment, a teen-centric book packager. My first hardcover book I ever designed were the original covers for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.

How was the process of developing the cover? Was there a clear goal in mind?

My original research for this project was actually more literal and to show a modern take on Arabian Nights. (Please see the mood board below) I knew I wanted to do something really cool with the type. When I showed my first round to the Editorial/Sales/Marketing/Publicity teams, the reaction was that the cover should look less romantic and focus more on the tension between the main character and the demon.

Moodboards_ya7-XL

How was the author involved? Was there some back and forth conversation with E. K. Johnston, any ideas or suggestions?

Our process starts with working closely with the editorial team and as the covers get refined, we show the in-house Sales, Marketing and Publicity teams. After everyone in-house is on board and we have a really strong cover or concept, we present our covers to the authors. This processes ensures us to show the author’s a cover that the entire group thinks will best represent their book. From there, we work with the author to make sure they are as happy as we are.

Do you have pictures of earlier designs?

AThousandNights_lineup-2880x1864

From your experience, does the publisher have the final say regarding the design of the book, or does the designer (and in some small ways the writer) have free rein?

Our standard process starts with the designer reading the book. We then discuss basic themes and concepts with the editor and ask them to fill out an Art Form for every book. From there, we present mood boards to the entire Art and Editorial teams. It’s a good way to brainstorm and start positioning our list to ensure we best represent each book and that they all look unique. Then the designer starts working on the project and we take everyone ideas into consideration. We then present many innovative ideas that we feel will both best represent the book and stick out on the book shelves. As we work with the editors and other members of the group the covers get revised based on the feedback and often are lead into a new direction that we would have never thought of otherwise.

Was there anything particularly different or interesting about this book cover, interesting facts you’d like to share?

We commissioned illustrator Peter Strain based on these two images.

PSTRAIN_LIFE_AQUA_WEB_670  QFT_WONDERFUL_LIFE_CWEB_531

E. K. Johnston said:

“I am still blown away by that cover. It’s gorgeous, and intricate, and absolutely stunning. My narrator’s village, the Star Trek joke, even the end papers! It’s just amazing.”

(If you are wondering about the Star Trek joke as I was, it’s “Sokath, His eyes uncovered” from the The New Generation episode Darmok! Thank you, Emily!)


How was the process of developing the cover? Was there a clear goal in mind?

The goal for this cover was to show the time travel element in a really modern, smart (yet simple) way to make sure this did not look like a historical fiction book. Please see the other versions below. The group reacted really well to the cleaner, more contained concepts with the unexpected twist.

Passenger_lineup-2880x1864

How was the author involved? Was there some back and forth conversation with Alexandra Bracken, any ideas or suggestions?

It was important to Alexandra Bracken that we get in the action/adventure element of the story on the cover as well. On the original version of the cover, the NYC skyline was more romantic. The lights on the bridge were shaped like hearts that we removed and we added more storm clouds on the bottom.

From your experience, does the publisher have the final say regarding the design of the book, or does the designer (and in some small ways the writer) have free reins?

For this cover, it was important that it had some connection to The Darkest Minds series even though its a different genre. We wanted Alexandra Bracken’s fans to easily find this book. That’s one of the reasons why we settled on having one main image on the cover.

Was there anything particularly different or interesting about this book cover, interesting facts you’d like to share?

I had created the image using a variety of stock photographs. Once everyone was really happy with the overall look, we sent to image to CGI Illusion Studio who made the image in the bottle look more like a plastic model. I am so happy with how real it looks!

Finally, what are some of the favourite book covers that you’ve seen (recently or not), from other designers and illustrators?

I gravitate to really smart, simple covers with an unexpected twist. I really love the Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard series look for its simplicity and the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo covers because the illustrations really set them apart. Here is a link to all the covers I love.

    


Thank you Marci for this amazing interview! Here are other covers Marci has worked on:

    

One thought on “Behind the Cover – Marci Senders
(A Thousand Nights, by E. K. Johnston, and Passenger by Alexandra Bracken)

  1. I just wanted to say that I recently purchased Passenger by Alexandra Bracken and I absolutely love the cover art! It is so beautiful and I just adored the concept. It is truly magnificent!

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