Next Tuesday is the official pub date for Shadowhunters and Downworlders, our anthology of YA authors talking about Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. (Though you can already get a print copy, or pre-order the e-book, online. Or order the audio book!) And while usually this pre-publication book “introduction” feature gives a little extra behind-the-scenes info on the content of our books, I wanted to break from tradition here and talk a little about the design—in particular, the cover.
The cover art is gorgeous, of course; it’s the work of Cliff Nielsen, the man responsible for a lot of my favorite YA covers the last few years (including the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices covers). But I also love what Cliff did with the concept, managing to transform our scattered notes about teamwork and handclasps and cities into an image that packs a lot of meaning.
We picked the title Shadowhunters and Downworlders in part, of course, because it’s distinctively TMI. But I also really like its suggestion of multiple parties coming together for the greater good. It reminds me of the end of City of Glass, but it also makes me think about all the contributors coming together to make this book. (In addition, I like to pretend “Shadowhunters” is a bit of a play on what the essays in the book do: look for the subtexts, the shadows, of the Mortal Instruments series, and bring them to light.)
As those of you following on Tumblr already know, the mark on the palm of the hand is half of the binding rune Clary creates in City of Glass. (We use it, and its partner, on the interior, too.) The design is the work of Val Freire, who (according to that link) originally designed them for Th3rd World’s Mortal Instruments comics. We’re just pleased to be able to use them (thanks, Val!).
There’s a story behind the hands themselves, too. If we were depicting a binding rune, obviously we wanted one Shadowhunter hand and one Downworlder hand. But which Shadowhunter? What variety of Downworlder? We wanted to keep it fairly non-specific, character-wise—as tempting as it was to request Magnus and Alec—but to help Cliff pick hand models (hand models!), we went with one female and one male, one younger and one older. And mostly just because we could, we pulled the age and appearance of the Downworlder hand from the series’ description of Maia. The slightly longer, sharper, heading-toward-claws nails are supposed to suggest werewolf.
It’s a pretty package, but that doesn’t mean much if the book inside isn’t any good. And we really think it is; it’s just plain fun to read, from Kate Milford’s lyrical ode to the strangeness of cities and the Mortal Instruments’ New York to Sarah Rees Brennan’s never-fails-to-make-me-choke-on-whatever-I’m-drinking mini-parody of Jace as Shadowhunter sex therapist (and the underlying theme of the series’ validation of desire).
You can check out the table of contents on our book page for yourself (short excerpts of each essay coming soon!), but we wanted to do something . . . more . . . to help show how great the content is. So we’ve pulled two dozen quotes that we thought were especially interesting, thought-provoking, or funny (that we could also fit reasonably into a readable graphic). We’ll be sharing those on Tumblr over the next two weeks, but here are the first two, from Cassandra Clare’s introduction and the first essay, Kate Milford’s “Unhomely Places”:
We’re excited about the official pub date (just a week from today!), but even more than that, we can’t wait to hear what you guys think. So let us know! Here, on Amazon, at B&N, through Goodreads—I promise, we keep an eye out. Your responses—what you loved, what didn’t move you as much—help us make every new Smart Pop book just a little bit better.
Thanks for reading!