Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Introducing #PenguinFlashback

Hello and welcome to the first edition of #PenguinFlashback! Each month, we’re picking a different theme and featuring one of our fave books from years past that match the theme. This month, we’re talking “Swoony Couples” so we had to gush about Every Breath and Every Word by Ellie Marney.
 
 
And now here’s the fun part: we need your help! Next month’s theme is “Girl Boss” – you have until February 21 to comment on our Instagram post and suggest your favourite Penguin Random House YA book featuring a girl boss (aka “strong female character”). Then check back here in March to see which one was nominated. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

By Ellie Marney
ISBN 9781770497726 | Hardcover
Ages 14+ | Tundra Books
Release date: October 14, 2014
When James Mycroft drags Rachel Watts off on a night mission to the Melbourne Zoo, the last thing she expects to find is the mutilated body of Homeless Dave, one of Mycroft’s numerous eccentric friends. But Mycroft’s passion for forensics leads him to realize that something about the scene isn’t right–and he wants Watts to help him investigate the murder. While Watts battles her attraction to bad-boy Mycroft, he’s busy getting himself expelled and clashing with the police, becoming murder suspect number one. When Watts and Mycroft unknowingly reveal too much to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion’s den–literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning to Rachel Watts again…
 
By Ellie Marney
ISBN 9781770497757 | Hardcover
Ages 14+ | Tundra Books
Release date: September 8, 2015
James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents … without saying goodbye to Rachel Watts, his ‘partner in crime’. Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behavior – not that Mycroft’s ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. So Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him … and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble. The theft of a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator, and the deaths of Mycroft’s parents…. Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of the three events – or will she lose him forever? Sparks fly when Watts and Mycroft reunite in this second sophisticated thriller about the teen sleuthing duo.

 

Fight Like a Girl: Q&A with Cover Artist Lauren Tamaki

Looking for a mid-week pick-me-up? Look no further: we have a new Q&A with artist Lauren Tamaki. She’s the genius behind the striking cover for Sheena Kamal‘s upcoming YA debut, Fight Like a Girl. Read on to see just how many sketches Lauren went through before she landed on this final image.

Did you read Fight Like a Girl before starting on the cover? If so, what about it stuck out to you the most?

I read the whole thing, front to back! I was struck by the ferocity of the main character: she’s angry, she swears, she fully realized. Her Trinidadian-Canadian identity is front and center and although we come from different backgrounds, I could relate to feeling of being in-between worlds and not knowing your place. The author explored the vagaries of being a 16 year old girl with gusto and the emotion was further heightened by the crazy fight sequences!

What emotions did you want to capture on the cover?

When John Martz, my wonderful art director, first briefed me on the project, we talked about dynamic image of a girl throwing a punch or a kick. The book is woven around the main character’s love for Muay Thai. I tried a few versions of that, and while they were active, sweaty and impactful, none of them had the confrontational nature that the character possessed. I tried a couple drawings that had direct eye contact but I didn’t want to create an explicit portrait of her face (someone told me a long time ago not to do that on book covers). I came to a nice solution that showcased the character’s searing stare and physicality with a bit of vulnerability tossed in.

How did you choose the colour scheme?

I knew the colour had to be hot and intense. The story is about love and violence, so I had no choice! I ended up using black ink washes coloured digitally (so it was still transparent in areas). I put a purple bruise colour under the red so it felt just a bit… achey.

Were you given any guidance from the author/editor?

The original vision for the cover was of a simple figure in an expressive illustrated style. I watched a ton of Muay Thai on YouTube to get an idea of what I was dealing with. This particular martial art is very calculated for all the fury it brings. We ended up gravitating away from that original thought, but drawing all those figures was extremely helpful.

How many drafts/designs did you go through before it was “finished”?

So so many…. I sent through 8 pencil sketches for the first review, mostly of the expressive figure in action. We toyed with a couple directions for a while but went with a more centralized view of a girl staring down the viewer while ‘on the ropes’. Once we decided on that path, I tried about 9 colour/tone tests, but nothing seemed right. I stripped it back to simple black line work and a flood of colour, which was the right treatment because it was bold and direct.

As per usual, I nit-picked right up to the delivery date: I noticed I hadn’t addressed the hand wrapping *exactly* as it should be so I went back in and fixed that. Research is so important!

Have you worked on other book covers before or do you have any coming up?

I’ve done a handful of book covers and this is definitely one of my favourites! My first book cover was with Penguin UK (Paradise Lodge by Nina Stibbe) and I had a great experience working with them: they let me go wild with the illustration and design of the entire wrap. I’m working on a book right now that will require a cover at some point… I think it’ll probably be the last thing I tackle!

How is designing a cover different from other illustration projects you’ve worked on?

I’ve heard designers and illustrators bemoan how book covers are difficult because of the variety of opinions required to pass muster. I’ve had wildly different experiences – mostly positive. The most joyous work occurs when you have trust and rapport with your AD. The worst experiences are when there are too many cooks in the kitchen, there is a lack of clarity and no respect for your time. Any illustration work (editorial, advertising, etc) can fall on either side.

What are some recent book covers you admire?

Designer Na Kim creates the most stunning book covers. The way she mixes illustration, photography, type… so wonderful! Her covers have incredible variety but are all blessed with her magic touch. Her image for Girl by Edna O’ Brian (featuring a gorgeous drawing by Chioma Ebinama) stopped me in my tracks.


Fight Like a Girl will be released on March 10, 2020. In the meantime, make sure you’re following Lauren and author Sheena Kamal on social media!

SHEENA KAMAL: website | instagram
LAUREN TAMAKI: website | instagram 

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: The Beauty of the Moment Cover Reveal

New year, new us! Or, at least, a new look for Tanaz Bhathena‘s sweet contemporary YA, The Beauty of the Moment. Check out the adorable cover below plus TWO Q&As: one with Tanaz and one with the cover artist/designer, Emma Dolan!

Q&A with Tanaz Bhathena

How was the process for this paperback cover different than it was for the hardcover cover?

The thought process was different. The hardcover focuses on Susan’s dreams of being an artist and the illustrations are right out of her sketchbook. The paperback focuses on both Susan and Malcolm and their romance. Both embody different aspects of the book that I love.

What do you think of the new cover?

I get hit by a serious case of nostalgia whenever I see this cover; it takes me back to my own high school days. The colour palette reminds me of a Mississauga sunset and both Susan and Malcolm appear exactly the way I imagined them!

What is your favourite scene in The Beauty of the Moment?

Susan and Malcolm’s scene at Square One Shopping Centre (which is an homage to my BFFs) and Malcolm’s scene with his uncle Mancher, which is humorous and full of good advice. 

What kind of feedback have you received about The Beauty of the Moment since it came out?

My favourite feedback for this book comes from teen readers because it was specifically written with them in mind. The best moment was during a teen girl book club (The Room Of Your Own in Toronto), when a reader said that Susan’s interactions with her mom helped her understand her own mother better. 

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the sequel to Hunted by the Sky, my fantasy novel set in a medieval India-inspired world. The first book releases on June 23 2020, the sequel sometime in 2021. 

What are your most anticipated releases of 2020? 

The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes by Suzanne Collins, Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith,This Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi, and Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust.

What was your favourite read of 2019?

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay. 


Q&A with Emma Dolan

Did you read The Beauty of the Moment before starting on the cover?

I unfortunately wasn’t able to read it before starting the cover. As book designers we try to read the books as often as we can, but this was a tight turnaround so I relied on discussions with the editors, Lynne and Peter, to fill me in!

Were you given any guidance from the author/editor?

Yes, absolutely! My first step was to sit down with the editor to discuss the direction they wanted to take the cover. This book already had a beautifully illustrated hardcover, so it was important to get a sense of everyone’s goals for the new design, what we wanted to do differently, and why.

How did you choose the cover direction? What emotions/what kind of atmosphere were you trying to capture?

During my discussions with the editor, we narrowed down a loose concept and look for the illustration. Everyone felt it was very important to have the central character, Susan, on the cover, as well as to convey that it’s a love story. It can be tricky to depict characters on a cover that only exist in writing. The descriptions might be there on the page, but how that translates in the readers’ imaginations can vary significantly. Luckily, Tanaz was very helpful! She provided detailed descriptions of both characters, as well as the dynamic between them. Lastly, the book is set in Mississauga, and I wanted to give a little nod to that in some way. I based the colour palette on the beautiful sunsets we have here in Toronto and the GTA.

How did you create the cover?

I used a combination of Illustrator and Photoshop to create the illustration, and the final design was laid out in InDesign.

How many drafts/designs did you go through before it was “finished”?

This cover was somewhat unusual in that, apart from a few minimal colour and font revisions, the final cover is very close to the first draft I sent to editorial.

What are some other book covers you’ve worked on? Do you have any coming up?

I’m fairly new to PRHC, so all the covers I’ve worked on have yet to be released – or even printed! I believe the first book I will hold in my hands is a poetry collection by Nancy Lee. It’s always very exciting to finally get to see the finished book!

If you missed picking up The Beauty of the Moment when it came out in hardcover, you can grab the adorable new paperback when it comes out on June 23, 2020!

Make sure to follow Tanaz and Emma on social media as well.

TANAZ BHATHENA: website | instagram
EMMA DOLAN: website | instagram | twitter

Putting the YA in FRIYAY: Staff Picks

The holidays are over but you still have time to hit up a bookstore before 2020 rolls around! In case you need some inspiration for your next read, here’s what our team loved in 2019:

Vikki VanSickle, Associate Director, Marketing & Publicity

The Fountains of Silence
By Ruta Sepetys
ISBN 9780399160318
Ages 12+ | Philomel Books

Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history’s darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence–inspired by the true postwar struggles of Spain.

The Secret Commonwealth (Book of Dust, Volume 2)
By Philip Pullman
ISBN 9780553510669
Ages 14+ | Knopf BFYR

The windows between the many worlds have been sealed and the momentous adventures of Lyra Silvertongue’s youth are long behind her—or so she thought.

Sylvia Chan, Manager, Marketing & Publicity

American Royals
By Katharine McGee
ISBN 9781984830173
Ages 14+ | Random House BFYR

Two princesses vying for the ultimate crown. Two girls vying for the prince’s heart. This is the story of the American royals.

The Starlight Claim
By Tim Wynne-Jones
ISBN 9781536202649
Ages 14+ | Candlewick

Fast-paced, evocative, and intensely suspenseful, Tim Wynne-Jones’s latest psychological thriller finds a teenager setting his wits against the frigid wilderness and a menacing crew of escapees.

Evan Munday, Publicity Manager

The Grey Sisters
By Jo Treggiari
ISBN 9780735262980
Ages 12+ | Penguin Teen Canada

Two years after a deadly plane crash, best friends D and Spider head into the mountains to face their grief and find more than they bargained for.

Aurora Rising
By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
ISBN 9781524720964
Ages 12+ | Knopf BFYR

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones ends up with the dregs…not to mention Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space.

Samantha Devotta, Associate Publicist

Chicken Girl
By Heather Smith
ISBN 9780143198680
Ages 12+ | Penguin Teen Canada

Poppy used to be an optimist…until she’s cyber-bullied. Then she takes refuge in her job (wearing a feathered chicken suit) before meeting a little girl who changes the way she thinks.

House of Salt and Sorrows
By Erin A. Craig
ISBN 9781984831927
Ages 12+ | Delacorte Press

As one by one her beautiful sisters mysteriously die on their isolated island estate, Annaleigh must unravel the curse that haunts her family.

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @penguinteenca for more recommendations in 2020 … see you next year!

YA Mondays: Frankly in Love Contest

Welcome to December! We want to make sure your holiday season is off to a great start so we’re giving you a chance to win a finished copy of Frankly in Love signed by David Yoon himself! All you have to do is follow @PenguinTeenCa, like the contest photo, and comment with an account you’re frankly in love with! Bonus entry: share the contest in your stories and tag us!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between December 2, 2019 and December 7, 2019. Open to residents of Canada (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their province or territory of residence at time of entry. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. See Official Rules here for full details.