I'm so excited to welcome Time Between Us (October 9th 2012 by Hyperion) author Tamara Ireland Stone to YA Confidential for a chat about her debut novel's gorgeous cover...
From Goodreads: Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett’s unique ability to travel through time and space brings him into Anna’s life, and with him, a new world of adventure and possibility. As their relationship deepens, they face the reality that time might knock Bennett back where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate—and what consequences they can bear in order to stay together. Fresh, exciting, and deeply romantic, TIME BETWEEN US is a stunning and spellbinding debut from an extraordinary new talent in YA fiction.
I didn’t really have a solid image in mind as I was drafting. But as my editor and I were titling the book, we often talked about the idea that “Time Between Us” would lend itself to a lot of beautiful design concepts, and that helped me visualize how it all might come together.
I trusted the Hyperion design team completely, and I was so curious to see what they would come up with. Frankly, my only hope was that it would be thought-provoking in addition to being visually interesting. Personally, I think they nailed it. I love that there’s physical distance—time and space—between Anna and Bennett, and while I never pictured this image exactly, I feel like it perfectly matches the title and the feel of the story. Honestly, I had no idea it would turn out to be so beautiful. I absolutely love it.
I might have had more involvement if I hadn’t liked the initial concept so much, but because I did, everything was pretty straightforward from my perspective. I was honored to be involved at every point they brought me in.
This was my first time going through the design process, so I had a lot to learn about how it all works. First, my editor sent me a concept of the idea. Even though she’d warned me that the girl on the cover wasn’t the final model, I admit, I panicked a bit. She just wasn't Anna—too much lipstick, too much attitude, too curvy. But my editor knew exactly what I was concerned about, and when we spoke on the phone later that day, she assured me that the model was only a placeholder, and that if I liked the concept, they’d search for the perfect Anna. Someone we fondly referred to as “a Chapstick girl”. Naturally pretty. An athlete’s body. A stance that conveyed both physical and emotional strength. Simple, comfortable clothing.
A few weeks later, when she told me they’d found the perfect person, I could hear the excitement in her voice. I knew if she was happy, I would be too. Then she asked me if I wanted to go online and help them shop for Anna's clothes for the photo shoot. That was fun.
When I first saw it, my family and I were having lunch in a restaurant in San Francisco’s North Beach district. I think my heart stopped when I saw the email on my phone. “Oh no,” I said to my husband. “The cover is here. Should I open it?” What can I say? We were having a great day with our kids. I didn’t want to be distracted, and I would have been if I didn’t love it. But, of course, he told me to open the attachment. So I did. And then this huge smile spread across my face. I handed him my phone. “Wow,” he said. “That’s really beautiful.” My kids agreed.
Honestly, I loved it from the second I saw it. I even loved the hot pink type they used for the font, and honestly, I’m not much of a pink person (although, since the cover has come out, I’ve found myself drawn to pink shirts and pink notebooks and pink Sharpies and… :)
The curls are probably the biggest difference. Anna has much tighter curls in her hair—they’re more unruly, more springy—and the curls on the cover are more windswept and flowy. But the effect is certainly beautiful.
I love so many things about the cover, but I think I like Anna’s posture the best. The look on her face and the way her arms are crossed is just so… Anna. It’s like she’s protecting herself, but she’s still open to possibilities. She’s looking out into her future, not back at him. Her expression is strong, but still a bit contemplative. Her posture and the expression on her face say so much about her character.
The circular pendant is really special to me, and my editor surprised me with that thoughtful detail. As I was writing the first drafts, I got really attached to the Mobius Strip symbol. Some physicists who study time travel have used it to describe how time could be twisted, each side representing a parallel universe. I’m just fascinated by that idea. And that concept drove many of the references to circles in this book, like the hallway and the track. I always loved the idea of the story itself being circular in nature. As you know from reading it, things come back around.
It’s so hard to pick a favorite! I really love them all. I love how the U.S. version captures the feeling of the beach while the U.K. edition zoned in on the snow—both settings play huge roles in the book. I love the Polish cover because it’s the first time I saw someone else's visual image of Bennett (and… okay… Hello Bennett :). I’m having so much fun seeing how people tie visual images to these characters that have lived so clearly in my mind alone for so long. I can’t wait to see the rest of them.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful questions, Katy! It’s been so much fun to think about the cover and how it all came together. I’m so glad other people seem to like it as much as the Hyperion team and I do!
Thank you, Tamara! TIME BETWEEN US was a fantastic read. Congratulations on your beautiful cover and your upcoming debut!
YA Confidential readers: Would you like to score an ARC of Time Between Us? Leave a comment below telling us ONE time and place (during your lifetime!) that you'd travel to if you had Bennett's enviable "talent." A winner will be randomly chosen and announced next week, Tuesday, July 31st.