Some people are good with words. Some people are good with visuals. When those two talents were being passed out, I definitely did not get the combo pack.
So my involvement with the cover art for my books is mostly limited to my editor sending me an early version of the potential art, and me responding, “Wow—that looks great!”
Kids who see themselves as future authors are often disappointed to hear that that’s the common set-up for me; I think kids who see themselves as future authors also tend to see themselves controlling every step of the process.
In the case of the cover of my newest book, CHILDREN OF REFUGE, I actually did have more input than usual.
Most of the action of CHILDREN OF REFUGE takes place in one of two places: either the glitzy, futuristic, skyscraper-filled Refuge City, or a desolate, scrubby section of unpopulated desert.
The first concept I heard for the cover involved showing both settings. The desert part was easy enough, but CHILDREN OF REFUGE is science fiction, and I’d made it clear that the residents of my fictional Refuge City had somewhat more advanced technology than ours—such as flying cars. And I’d described the city as it appeared to the main character, not as it would appear to twenty-first-century eyes. So my editor passed along a question: Exactly what did Refuge City look like? How should it be depicted?
Coincidentally, I had just returned from three weeks in China, where I’d gone to speak to students at the Shanghai American School. And there had been places in Shanghai where I’d thought, “I feel like I’ve just stepped into a science fiction novel!” Part of that, unfortunately, was because of the extreme air pollution, which made me feel like the scene I’d entered was dystopian. But it was also because so much of the city’s skyline was one brand-new, futuristic-looking skyscraper after another—the exact effect I envisioned for Refuge City.
To help explain my ideas, I sent my editor some views of the Pudong area of Shanghai, with all its gleaming new skyscrapers. That skyline also includes the distinctive pinkish Oriental Pearl Tower, which was built in the early 1990s and fit my childhood notions about what the future would look like.
So the first rough version of the CHILDREN OF REFUGE cover my editor sent me looked like this:
I thought it was beautiful but... just a little too recognizably like Shanghai. CHILDREN OF REFUGE is not set in Shanghai or anywhere else in China; indeed, I wanted readers to think only that Refuge City is someplace on Earth, not in any specific country or on any specific continent. I wanted the feel of the city to be recognizably human, not recognizably tied to any exact location.
So everyone agreed that for the final version of the cover, the two buildings that looked like the Oriental Pearl Tower had to go.
Now I look at the cover of CHILDREN OF REFUGE, and I totally see it as Refuge City, not anyplace else. And that’s perfect. I also like how the towering skyscrapers overshadow the desert scene, and only an observant viewer would notice the sand in the foreground—this also fits the symbolism of how much life in Refuge City overshadows everything else for the main character of the book, Edwy, when he first arrives there.
In the meantime, I’ll just tell kids who ask about cover art that the appreciation of great visuals is a talent all its own.
The illustration for the cover of CHILDREN OF REFUGE was done by Aaron Goodman. CHILDREN OF REFUGE is the second book in the Children of Exile series. The first book, (called CHILDREN OF EXILE) is newly out in paperback this month. CHILDREN OF JUBILEE, which will be the third and final book in the series, comes out in September 2018.
September 12th — Crossroad Reviews
Meet Children of Refuge!
After Edwy is smuggled off to Refuge City to stay with his brother and sister, Rosi, Bobo, and Cana are stuck alone—and in danger—in Cursed Town in the thrilling follow-up to Children of Exile from New York Times bestselling author, Margaret Peterson Haddix.
It’s been barely a day since Edwy left Fredtown to be with his parents and, already, he is being sent away. He’s smuggled off to boarding school in Refuge City, where he will be with his brother and sister, who don’t even like him very much. The boarding school is nothing like the school that he knew, there’s no one around looking up to him now, and he’s still not allowed to ask questions!
Alone and confused, Edwy seeks out other children brought back from Fredtown and soon discovers that Rosi and the others—still stuck in the Cursed Town—might be in danger. Can Edwy find his way back to his friends before it’s too late?
Meet Margaret Peterson Haddix!
She has since written more than 40 books for kids and teens, including Running Out of Time; Double Identity; Uprising; The Always War; the Shadow Children series; the Missing series; the Children of Exile series; the Under Their Skin duology; and The Palace Chronicles. She also wrote Into the Gauntlet, the tenth book in the 39 Clues series. Her books have been honored with New York Times bestseller status, the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award; American Library Association Best Book and Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers notations; and numerous state reader’s choice awards. They have also been translated into more than twenty different languages.
Haddix and her husband, Doug, now live in Columbus, Ohio. They are the parents of two grown kids.
Children of Refuge
By: Margaret Peterson Haddix
Release Date: September 12, 2017