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Sabriel by Margot Wood
In the early 1990s, Garth Nix went to a flea market in Sydney, Australia and looked through a box of old, early 1900s photographs that were being sold for a dollar a piece. As he flipped through the photos he came across a photograph of a young woman in a military style coat wearing a belt made out of bells and holding a sword. He studied the photo, wondering who this mysterious woman was. He purchased the photo, took it home and promptly wrote the draft for his young adult high-fantasy novel, Sabriel.
THIS DID NOT ACTUALLY HAPPEN. But what if it did? And that, my beautiful friends, is the idea behind this fauxto.
I wanted to do something different for my Young Adults fauxto series. I’ve recently been doing character portraits and knew I wanted to do one for Sabriel, but to give it a twist, I wanted to take a fauxto of a real person that would serve as the inspiration for the fictional character. Does that make any sense?
Basically, in my imagination, Garth Nix based Sabriel off a real person and I wanted to explore what that woman would look like and voila, you have the image before you.
(Please do not remove credit/description)
My friend Margot (The Real Fauxtographer) has an amazing series where she interprets YA novels into these wonderful, wonderful photos (see also, her Code Name Verity photo, and her photo for Shadow and Bone - amazing).
I had the privilege of sitting for her on her Sabriel photo. Personal bias aside, this is a pretty special photo to me because Sabriel is one of my absolute favorite books ever, and she’s a heroine near and dear to my heart.
When Margot first approached me about this portrait, I shared with her that a lot of readers may disagree with her interpretation because Sabriel is interpreted as white (I mean, it’s pretty canon). Her response - “you’re pale, you have dark hair, you’re Sabriel” - while simple, is gratifying and validating to me. Not a lot of people would be flexible to the idea of having a POC pose as a traditionally white heroine, making this doubly special, and even more awesome.
Interesting conversation happening about Sabriel’s race here. Wonder what Garth Nix would say.
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I’m going to tell you a secret about authors; we’re just a little crazy when it comes to the covers of our books. Okay, a lot crazy. But it’s for good reason. We know the cover is the first thing you see when you’re looking for a new book to read. When done right, the cover sets the tone for the story inside, giving you a glimpse of the journey on which you’re about to embark. With so many amazing books on the market, we want our book to stand out. We want you to see the cover and go, “Wow! I can’t wait to read that one!”
All of which is why I’ve spent the last nine months waiting anxiously for the cover of my April 2015 book LIES I TOLD. Grace Fontaine, the heroine in LIES, is a complicated character. Adopted by a pseudo-family of con artists, Grace is forced to move around, befriending the teenagers of wealthy families with the goal of stealing from them. The Fontaines, including Grace’s adopted brother, Parker, are the only family she’s ever known. She wants to do her part to keep them together, but by the time they arrive in the seaside town of Playa Hermosa, she’s beginning to feel the pressure of all that lying. When she gets too close to her mark, cute, kind Logan Fairchild, she is forced to examine all the things she thought to be true — about herself and the people she calls her family.
I was beyond thrilled when I saw the comp for the cover. Grace’s questions about her identity are relatable to teens everywhere, and I really wanted the cover to reflect the ambiguity in the way Grace sees herself. I also wanted to give the reader a taste of Playa Hermosa and the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA (where a couple of important scenes take place). The cover is absolutely perfect. I can almost see the beach to the left of the scene, and the building in the background could be any number of restaurants that line the Southern California beaches where I grew up. The light reflecting off the wet pavement gives the scene a dark, thrilling edge. But the icing on the cake is the figure at the center of the frame. The person seems to be moving toward the camera, and while she’s obviously female, the rest of her features are blurred. The effect is genius, not only because it speaks to the question of who Grace is, but because it also speaks to the real question of who Grace thinks she is. And that is the most important question of all.
Can’t wait to share her story with you!
Follow Michelle on Twitter @MichelleZink!