authorthoughts: antony john & elemental

It’s not often that I photograph books here on the blog, but when I do, I feel like I’m giving each book its own little fashion show.

This immediately reminds me of Mindy Kaling’s character on The Office being super annoying when she chants, “Fashion show at lunch!”

Today I’m rolling out the red carpet for Antony John’s latest beauty (pubbed today!), Elemental. I was able to get my copy early (thank you, Antony!) while I was in St. Louis earlier this month visiting with AdeleAdele actually got her copy first, so I was excited to see the final finish and production work and immediately ran my hands over the raised title, took the jacket off to inspect the binding and spine like the book nerd I am. All in all, it really is a great, solid cover. And while those may not be the most flowery words I’ve used in regards to cover art, it doesn’t make me love the jacket any less.

*cue upbeat runway music*

Sorry for the rug pics. My poor office desk is currently buried underneath a crap-ton of remodeling tools.

But the best part of this post? Antony let me pick his brain about the jacket artwork!

TCG: So here we are again doing another cover interview for a completely different story. You won’t find any misfit band members anywhere in this story (as far as I’ve read, at least!). When it came to thinking about a cover for Elemental, what was the first thing that came to mind?

AJ: To be honest, I had no idea what kind of cover the novel should have. The only things I knew for sure were that I wanted it to feel both fantastical and cool, and also that the wildness of the Outer Banks ought to be evoked in some way. Apparently, Tony Sahara felt the same way!

Yes, Tony Sahara was definitely tracking with that same thought! And this is the same guy who designed Eona. (!!!) Were you able to see any thumbnails/comps before the final version? What was your gut reaction when you first saw the cover art?

Okay, so first off, let us all take a moment to observe the awesomeness that is Tony Sahara. I’ve often said that the authors I admire most are the ones whose work has a connecting thread, but in which everything also feels new and fresh. I think this description fits Tony perfectly. His work is instantly recognizable, but there’s never anything remotely lazy about his work. Indeed, the cover to Elemental was constructed by overlaying twenty separate elements (bad pun) – which, let’s be honest, is pretty amazing.

As for sketches, no, I didn’t see any. Ordinarily, I’d crave an early glimpse of the cover direction, but he nailed it so well, I’m rather pleased I didn’t see it earlier. There’s nothing quite like receiving a cover and issuing a few well-chosen (and joyful) expletives. Seriously, I was head-over-heels in love with this cover from the get-go.

I remember when you were on the Guys Read panel at the YALSA Lit Symposium, you had mentioned that Elemental was the book you wrote for teenage you. What kind of cover would Teenage Antony be drawn to?

This one. I’m not just saying that, either. As a teen, I found movie posters infinitely more arresting than book covers, because it felt like there was a gulf in design quality between the two. That gulf has disappeared now, and some book covers are truly iconic.

Put it this way: If teen-me was browsing the local bookstore, I would find Elemental irresistible (from the perspective of the cover, I mean). I hope other teen boys will too.

It’s nice knowing that nowadays there’s much less of a design gulf between movie posters and book covers. What kind of covers did you grow up around, and what movie posters were you drawn to?

These two book covers are pretty representative of what book covers looked like in 1980s England. There’s something decidedly young about these covers, which reflects the fact that they were to be kept separate from adult literature. Edgy is most definitely not a part of these covers’ make up, which was problematic when you consider that at the same time I was seeing movie posters like Batman and Empire of the Sun. In the latter, the juxtaposition of the small boy holding a toy plane while a real plane crashes from the sky is a really powerful image. It seemed a shame to me that book covers couldn’t shoot for the same level of complexity – after all, we know very well that teens would pick up on it! (Random aside: Christian Bale went to my school, and was only allowed six weeks away to shoot this movie.)

I have always been a huge Hitchcock fan, and this poster is genius, in my opinion. Actually, the original Catch 22 book cover dates from around this time, and is also really striking.

I brought my book with me to work one day and my coworker stopped in to talk to me and saw it sitting on my desk. His exact words: “Ooooh. This looks interesting.” It’s this kind of reaction that I can only imagine any author would want. What draws me to Elemental‘s jacket is that title, front and center with that white-hot ball of energy behind it. It just makes you wonder, “What does that mean?” What’s your favorite part of the cover?

Actually, while I love both of the elements (oh man, there I go again!) that you mentioned, my favorite part is the way the stormy ocean is twisted as though the whole world is being manipulated and contorted. It has a freaky circus-mirror feel to it that I find really compelling.

Has this cover set the precedence for branding its following novels, since Elemental is the first in a trilogy? Because if so man I can’t wait to have all of those side by side!

I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to give away here, and because of that, I’m going to give away everything. Yes, it IS setting the precedent for branding, and I’ve already seen an early draft of the cover for book 2. It’s freaking amazing, and is going to elicit some VERY strong responses from readers, I think. I can’t really tell you much about it, other than to say it’s based around one of the elements, and features the setting of book 2. Tony has outdone himself yet again.

Excuse me for my lack of maturity/professionalism/ability to use normal words, but: *insert well-chosen joyful expletive* I’m even more excited to finish the book and see the next cover!

Thanks so much for stopping by the blog, Antony. I’m definitely looking forward to rolling out the red carpet for book 2!

Edit: The cover art is available on Tony Sahara’s website — get thee to wallpapering, folks!


10 thoughts on “authorthoughts: antony john & elemental

  1. Thanks as always for having me along, Capillya. And let’s breathe a sigh of relief that you weren’t trying to run this blog in the 1980s. (Okay, so the lack of the Internet might have hampered your efforts, but still . . .) How would you find anything to cover love? Every single post would fall under the “what were YA thinking?” category. Those were dark, dark days.

    And with that uplifting thought, I’ll sign off. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

    • It definitely would’ve been slim pickins in cover love, that’s for sure. Oh geez, can you imagine?! I’d have to stick to movie posters.

      Thanks again, Antony, and happy book birthday, Elemental!

  2. This cover is so crazy amazing. I’ve been in love since Day One! Thank you for the awesome interview with Antony!

    I had no clue Tony Sahara designed both this and EONA. He is truly talented.

    Ooh, and now I REALLY want to see the cover for Book 2 myself!

  3. “…I’ve already seen an early draft of the cover for book 2. It’s freaking amazing, and is going to elicit some VERY strong responses from readers…” AAAHHHH!!!


    I’m currently LOVING this. Hello Outer Banks!

    That is one beautiful finished copy. Also, sidenote, I just bought Road Trip yesterday.

  4. If we needed any more reason to love Tony Sahara, he sent Antony a special reformatted Powerpoint slide version of the cover image (advertising Left Bank Books, no less!). If it’s impressive on the book, it’s even more so taking up a wall.

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