Monday, 3 December 2012

The Boy with Two Heads - cover story

Connie and I set off in freezing temperatures last week to present The Boy with Two Heads at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Penrith, Cumbria. It was cold, but not as cold as in December 2010, when I took this picture nearby.

(On that visit I was still researching my story, and staff and students in the PE department gave me time, thought and encouragement. This time I didn't meet any of them, but I am still very grateful to them. However, I did get a chance to thank one other pupil of the school who read part of the manuscript in 2010, and who, together with her sister, helped me with advice on contemporary language and teenage nightlife in Penrith.)

If you've read the beginning of this blog (see December 1st 2011, Two Heads ... why?), you'll know how hard we found it to choose a title and create the cover for this complex and intriguing story. Obviously, both are very important to attract attention in the market and to give a flavour of the book.

The students we met in Penrith last week were in Year 9. We asked them to look at the cover in detail. They found more than 14 elements that had needed our special attention. (We had only remembered 12!) They noticed that the photo on the front has to do with the past, while the photo on the back is of the present. They were intrigued by the Boy's other head being of a girl. They asked about how the Olympic Games came into it (but we didn't tell them, as that would have spoiled the story), and noticed among other things that the police accident board is dated 432 BC. 

They also disagreed with feedback we have had, that the cover is too complicated or too busy for a Young Adult book. They liked that it introduced and echoed the story, rather than was just an enigmatic image on a black background, like so many 'teen' books. 

Thank you all, and your teacher, for an enlightening afternoon (for us, and I hope for you too). 

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