Behind-the-Scenes of The Elected Series

With the third and final book of The Elected Series, Perfected, releasing April 22nd, I thought I’d reveal some background secrets on the making of the novel and answer some frequently asked questions.

First, what did it feel like to finish the series?  I wrote the epilogue to Perfected near the beginning of drafting the third book, not in chronological order, as you might have thought.  I’ve always known how I wanted the series to end, and once I’d written the epilogue, everything else just moved toward that conclusion.  I wrote that scene tearing-up as I typed because it felt so significant.  So final–after the work that went into the series.

Writing the trilogy was a labor of love.  Truly laborious with editing, beta readers, critiques, finding agents, hearing from publishers, drafting, redrafting, etc.  The story was a bubble bursting to be freed, though.  Getting to write the story was my favorite part, and when I typed “The End” on Perfected’s first draft, it felt like I’d just launched my baby off to kindergarten.

Slide1What’s the significance of the covers?  Many of you smarties have noticed that each of the covers contains a shape.  A scalloped medallion in Elected.  A diamond in Perfected.  A silver teardrop in Perfected.  The three shapes are actually pendants from each of the three countries that made up the former United States –  a reveal that will be fully flushed out in Perfected.

Here’s a mondo secret, though….I got the idea for the pendants from Elected’s cover art, something that was a complete coincidence.  The three necklaces and what they foretell weren’t in my original outline.

My cover artist (who’s amazing) Suzannah Safi http://www.suziedesigns.net, created Elected’s cover back in 2012.  At that juncture, I didn’t know if the golden scalloped “bubble” would have any significance at all.  In fact, Elected’s cover as you see it now wasn’t even what I’d originally envisioned.  I’d though there should be a glass full of East Country’s infamous hemlock and a fuzzy image of Aloy, Vienne, and Griffin within the liquid.  But that ended up looking like a goblet of wine on fire.  No one liked that version.

The next iteration of Elected’s cover was of the White House behind a spooky fence, but my agent at the time thought that made the book look like a contemporary political thriller, not YA sci-fi.  In the end, Suzannah created the current look with the gold, scalloped bubble.  I loved how Aloy’s face in the cover was androgynous enough that you could sort of see her as a boy if you looked hard enough, but I had no idea what to do with the golden bubble.  At that point, though, it was too late to create any other cover versions.  So, we stuck with the bubble, and somehow it worked perfectly into the Elected Series’ ultimate story.  (If you’ve checked out the prequel short story to The Elected Series, called The Pendant, you’ll see that gold scalloped medallion again.)  THE PENDANT- large-1

Once I’d determined the bubble’s significance, we designed the covers for Suspected and Perfected, specifically including a diamond and silver teardrop.

Who’s on the cover of Perfected?  There was quite a bit of speculation on this after Perfected’s cover was revealed almost a year ago.  Some people think it’s Aloy with her hair all grown out and wearing the girlish clothes she always wanted.  Others think it’s Vienne.  Elected’s cover showed the front of Aloy’s face, but not her whole body.  In that one Aloy is looking out at the reader, almost like she’s asking for help or daring you to reveal her secret.  The woman on Perfected’s cover is…ba ba bum…Aloy again.  This time, though, she’s walking away, almost like she’s heading into the future, not worried about receiving anyone’s approval or help.  I love the red scarf she’s wearing too.  It could signify all the blood that was spilled to reach the series’ conclusion.  (But it could also just be a pretty scarf…you’ll have to read and see.)  :)

perfected-largeMy cover artist, Suzannah, and Silence in the Library’s designer, Kelli Neier, worked on Perfected’s cover tirelessly, ensuring every detail was perfect.  At first, the figure of the girl was much bigger, taking up almost the entire left side, but as you can see, that size didn’t end up on the final cover.  Here’s that earlier picture for comparison.

Also, earlier cover versions contained different styles of tree inside the teardrop.  The one we chose was based on an informal Facebook poll where I asked people which one they liked better.  The current tree, which looks like a globe, won because it best represented the environmental storyline.  I liked the fullness of the bright green tree, but I couldn’t turn
down a tree that looked like Earth.

Perfected with full tree

What fun stuff am I doing to celebrate Perfected’s release and what have I done in the past for the other two books?  If you’ve been following my book blog for the past few years, you know I love to host themed parties.  For Elected’s release I commandeered a restaurant with a black silhouette tree and burnt orange paint on its walls.  You couldn’t have asked for a better venue that magically matched the book’s cover.  Then chose hemlock-themed items from Etsy to give away at the party.  There were hemlock earrings, cupcake toppers in the shape of books that had Elected’s cover painted on each one, licorice-flavored caramels, a tureen full of “purple pills”,  and even “hemlock” cocktails to drink.  When everyone walked into the party, they received a necklace with Aloy’s key to the purple pill vault hanging on the chain.  At the end of the party, I told people to look at their keys because a few of them had a colored dot on their backs.  Those keys won prizes like a Kindle, etc.

For Suspected’s release we had just moved cross country, so I had a much smaller celebration with family.

For Perfected there will be a multitude of launch parties spanning the US, including a small champagne toast/costume party in Seattle on the night the book is released, a second launch party a week later in Washington D.C. at the original venue where we held Elected’s release, and a third, much larger party in Seattle where the public will be invited to attend.

For Perfected, I wanted to share the fun with a larger crowd.  Not all of The Elected Series’ fans can make it to one of the launch parties, so we devised a way you can all get involved, no matter where you live.  During the month of April, anyone who posts a picture of themselves holding a physical copy of any of the three books (Elected, Suspected, and/or Perfected), posts it to twitter or Facebook, and tags me so I’m sure to see it, is automatically entered in a drawing to win a Kindle!  I’ll pull names out of a hat in early May and announce the winner!

Good luck to everyone, and as Aloy would say, “A new day to you!”

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