Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Under the Cover: Anxious Hearts

In honor of Valentine's Day, here's a look at the creation of a classic YA romance: Anxious Hearts, by Tucker Shaw.

Book Summary

“Evangeline,” he repeated, calling at a whisper. “Evangeline.” He was not calling that she may hear, he was calling that somehow her soul might know that he was devoted entirely to her, only to her. “Evangeline, I will find you.”
      Eva and Gabe explore the golden forest of their seaside Maine town, unknowingly tracing the footsteps of two teens, Evangeline and Gabriel, who once lived in the idyllic wooded village of Acadia more than two hundred years ago. On the day that Evangeline and Gabriel were be wed, their village was attacked and the two were separated. And now in the present, Gabe has mysteriously disappeared from Eva.
      A dreamlike, loose retelling of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous love poem “Evangeline,” Anxious Hearts tells an epic tale of unrequited love and the hope that true love can be reunited.

Design Exploration 

My inspiration for this cover actually came one weekend while I was camping. (See below: Me camping, i.e. Me freezing my tookus off!)

Staring out at the trees, trying not to think about cold fingers and toes, I started to think about one of my new book projects, Anxious Hearts. One half of the story is set in the Acadian wilderness of Nova Scotia, so trees and outdoor elements would be essential to the romantic backdrop. I also wanted the cover to show both past and present incarnations of our heroine, Evangeline. So, still thinking about the trees, I did a quick sketch:

And knew the tree was the perfect way to bridge the gap between past Evangeline and present Eva. Now all I needed was a gorgeous model, amazing makeup/prop/set stylists, and one awesome photographer to put it all together. Easily said AND done! I hired one of my favorite photographers, Jonathan Beckerman and he got to work creating this extensive shoot.


A folder of stock photos showing the kind of dramatic lighting and romantic atmospheric elements we were after:

Cover Creation

And Jonathan and Co. engineered (indoors, mind you!) the perfect romantic outdoor shoot.

I pieced some of the shots together to see if my original sketch idea would work—but the vertical title placement didn't fit with the actual image...

So we decided the best solution would be to use more portrait-like photos and wrap the photography around the jacket, putting eighteenth-century Evangeline on the cover, the tree on the spine, and modern-day Eva on the back. The time periods were further separated by blue and yellow tints.

While Jonathan was putting the final touches on the jacket photography, I was working on the title type. I fell in love with the typography and ornamental treatment on the cover of this copy of Longfellow's poem.

Using it as a starting point, I went through a few typographic versions of the title. Some became too Twilight-y, some too floral and fussy...

Until I decided to just drawn the thing myself. The final title treatment is based off of the letter forms of Adobe Garamond and the swirls of Zinco:

The title is also enhanced with ornaments that represent the different time periods. The top ornament belongs to modern Eva and Gabe, and the bottom ornament references the eighteenth-century lovers, Gabriel and Evangeline. I carried this theme throughout the book, using the ornaments as visual clues for the two different narrations.

And the whole thing put together:

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