Going UnderCOVER with Regina Flath and SERVANTS OF THE STORM


Well, hello there, my lovelies!! Things have been a bit crazy for me here in book blog land. I’ve just done a major host move and things are still a bit wonky, so please pardon the bits of dust and a few missing pieces.

I’ve been rushing to get the site all prettied up because TODAY we get to see the brand new cover for the trade paperback version of a book from one of my very favorite people!!!! SERVANTS OF THE STORM was the YA debut from Delilah S Dawson. Not only did she write a kickass, creepy, insanely unique YA paranormal, but the cover “powers-that-be” at Simon & Schuster gave it an appropriately creepy hardback cover. Regina Flath is the designer that took on the project. First, we’ll take a reminder peek at the hardcover, then chat just a bit with Regina and Delilah about the covers… then… at the end… the big reveal of the just-as-awesome trade paperback cover!!


Q & A with cover designer Regina Flath:
As a member of the S&S design team, are you able to choose projects, or are you assigned a book cover to work?
What’s great about my team is that we all respect each other’s preferences for types of books we like to work on. Usually when a list is presented to us by editorial, the designers will all take a look through a quick synopsis of the books and then decide what we like to work on best. After we’ve picked our preferences, everything else is assigned based on work load: if I have less titles, I’ll take the stragglers from the list, that kind of thing.

In either case, what were your first impressions of SERVANTS OF THE STORM?
When the book was presented and I heard the words demons, secrets, and missed medication, I KNEW this was my kind of book! I loved the dark tone and rich atmosphere of the world. I also loved how respectfully the author treated the main character’s mental illness in the book; it’s such a huge part of the story (and I won’t spoil it for you!) and I thought that was really well done. Plus, demons, I mean, you can’t go wrong!

Did your initial design ideas make it through to the final cover? If not, what were the major changes that were made?
With SERVANTS OF THE STORM, it was a little bit different as far as process. I actually found the cover image when searching for imagery for an entirely different book! When culling images for that other book, the editor expressed that image could work for SERVANTS. The next season, when the book came across my desk, I pulled the image back up after reading the book and realized that yes, this would be a great image for this cover. I did additional photo research but none of that ended up being used. We knew from jump that that image was perfect. There were some changes to the image, color shifts to make things a little more dramatic, but this was one of the rare projects where the first idea went to final.

How was the decision made to create a different cover for the paperback release? What was the goal in giving the cover a new look?
Often times paperbacks are an opportunity to give a book a new readership that it didn’t have in hardcover. For SERVANTS, we all LOVE the original cover, so there was a lot of back and forth about whether changing the cover for paperback would even happen. It was decided that we wanted to give this book a more atmospheric look in paperback, to showcase the incredibly dark and interesting world that the author built. There are some great scenes at a fair ground (again, no spoilers!) and the Southern Gothic feeling was what the team wanted to emphasize. I did a pretty exhaustive image search to find images that evoked the feeling the book gave me. I settled on the creepy signage because it reminded me of the gothic Savannah setting, almost welcoming the reader into this strange and perilous world. I put the title in the sign in an off kilter way because I wanted it to feel almost like graffiti; as if the residents of this story were simultaneously warning you about what’s to come and inviting you to look closer. The original photograph didn’t include the lightning; I added that to give a sense of foreboding and emphasize the STORM in the SERVANTS OF THE STORM. The ferris wheel is another thing I added, again to reference the creepy fair ground scenes. My hope is that it all comes together to give you a creepy-cool image that makes you want to pick up the book!

What’s your favorite book cover that you did NOT design? If you could design a new cover for any book, what book would it be, and what would you like to do?
My current wish-I-designed-it cover is by S&S’s own Lucy Cummin’s “We All Looked Up” by Tommy Wallach. It’s GORGEOUS, simple, and so striking. I don’t know that I have any books that’d I’d want to re-cover. Maybe a few of my own that I did early in my career (which shall remain title-less, haha). Often, I find myself wanting to cover adult books in a way that would position them for YA audiences. I’m not sure what I would do and it’s also hard to describe a concept in words (I’m much better at the images part!).


Thoughts from author Delilah S Dawson:
We know most authors don’t get a lot of input in their cover design. BUT, did you share your ideas about what you would *like* to see on the cover of SERVANTS OF THE STORM?
Nope– both times, it arrived like magic in my inbox to thoroughly delight me. But I have complete trust in Regina and am always amazed by her work. My entire editorial team is magnificent, and they really get my books and care fiercely about them and me.

How well did the final cover fit your original idea? How well did it capture the overall feel of the book.?
As my first YA, I had no idea what would make a good cover for Servants of the Storm. The closest Southern Gothic-y comp title I know is Beautiful Creatures, and that one’s all typeography. My only concern was that I didn’t want a white girl in a prom dress or anyone in a black bustier. To be quite honest, it feels like a tough concept to represent, and I love both the hardcover and paperback takes on it. Both covers capture the off-kilter creep factor without being too overt about the secrets revealed as the story unfolds.

What do you think about changing the design for the trade paperback release?
I think it’s fantastic! I’m not precious about my books, so I love trying new things and seeing if maybe we can hook some new readers. Plus, it’s just a really amazing cover. I’m going to need a framed print on my wall…

Anything else you’d like to share??
Well, if you haven’t picked up Servants of the Storm, I hope you’ll give it a shot. Southern Gothic Horror demons in a storm-ravaged Savannah, complete with a mixed race heroine, spooky cemeteries, an abandoned amusement park, and a demon Basset hound. What’s not to love? We also recently revealed the cover for my April 2015 YA, HIT, which is about reluctant teen assassins in a bank-owned America. (http://fashion-by-the-book.tumblr.com/post/100746321166/here-is-the-cover-of-delilah-s-dawsons-newest) This masterpiece is also Regina’s handiwork, and I think you can begin to see why I consider her a goddess.

Thanks so much for letting me SQUEE about this new cover! <3


And… since you transitioned us so nicely… I’m happy to present the NEW cover (for the trade paperback, available in June 2015) for SERVANTS OF THE STORM…




So… I LOVE it… what do you think???