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The amazingly talented Mallory Heyer at Penguin Random House illustrated the cover of SCREEN QUEENS, and my jaw dropped upon seeing it for the first time (and the second and the tenth and the hundredth!).

 

Mallory went beyond an accurate representation of each character’s physical appearance. She made sure to dress each in clothing mentioned in the novel, from Lucy’s black wrap dress to Delia’s shorts and loose tees to Maddie’s striped shirts and ripped jeans. She also incorporated extra details specific to the young women, such as Lucy’s pink-striped notebook with her initial on the front, Delia’s stickered suitcase, Maddie’s tablet, and, of course, the sunglasses each wears.

 

One of the most important but perhaps subtle details that Mallory included in her illustration is jewelry, specifically the necklaces each girl is wearing. These pieces are special to the characters and play integral roles in their personal journeys.

 

Dark-haired Maddie’s necklace is a four-leaf clover encased in glass that she picked on the day her little brother, whom she loves dearly, was born. As an Asian American with a father who has Chinese heritage and a mother with Irish roots, this four-leaf clover represents, as her mother says is the Irish tradition, “faith, hope, love, and luck,” all things Maddie has lost and hopefully finds in this summer program.

 

Blonde Delia wears a necklace with a piece of circuit board as the pendant, given to her by her father before the summer program begins. I found real-world versions of this type of pendant while researching women in technology prior to writing. The product description mentioned in the book is the exact wording I found on the real-world “for sale page: “perfect for fathers, sons, or your favorite tech lover.” The omission of females in this description is indicative of the problems women in tech face and why more female role models are sorely needed.

Brown-haired Lucy’s necklace is a Star of David that her mother had given to her for her bat mitzvah when she was thirteen. It had originally been her mom’s, given to her for her own ceremony. Before the program begins, Lucy hasn’t worn the necklace in years. It’s a tie to the mother she feels estranged from, and over the course of the novel, Lucy’s relationship with her mother will be reflected in how she feels about this necklace.

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Collectively, having each main character own a piece of jewelry that is important to her was my way of bonding these girls who come from different backgrounds, with different goals and personalities. It was my way of showing that they just might have some things in common. Individually, the necklaces play important roles in each girl’s personal stories and come to tangibly illustrate their growth throughout the novel.

 

With the help of a talented illustrator, covers can bring characters to life and Mallory and the cover of SCREEN QUEENS is the best example of that!

 

* Note: While Mallory did the illustration, the full cover owes much to Teresa Evangelista who did the full jacket design. Much thanks to both!

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Book news: 
Sources Say coming Fall 2020!

My newest YA contemporary, SOURCES SAY, will release from Penguin/Razorbill in Fall 2020! 

SOURCES SAY follows a school election that goes from mundane to high stakes after a scandal rocks the student body. As the candidates, fresh from a bitter breakup, make it the center of their platforms, two rival newspapers battle for campaign trail exclusives, sending the controversy viral and making student government the newest hashtag. 

Click here to add it to Goodreads now!

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YASH Giveaway!

Screen Queens Swag Packs!

U.S. and International! I'm giving away SCREEN QUEENS swag as part of the YA Scavenger Hunt through October 6. Click here to enter!