A new cover is always an exciting thing… by Louise Candlish
A new cover is always an exciting thing. Our House is my first novel to be published by Simon & Schuster in the UK, as well as my first novel ever to be published in the US (by Berkley/Penguin), and I was fascinated to see how publishers in the two biggest English language markets in the world would choose to present the book visually to their separate markets. We’re divided by a common language, after all, so maybe we’re divided by common visual tastes, too?
As it turned out, we’re all in it together – unlike the characters in the book.
Berkley came up with a cover first, the work of designer Alana Colucci, and I loved it at once. Little details like the ‘a novel’ inside the ‘O’, the transparency of the lettering over the drape…and those tulips! The book is about a domestic ideal that turns fatal and dead flowers are a great visual shorthand for that.
Then the S&S designer, Pip Watkins, shared her idea, and we all went, ‘Ooh!’ The novel has a he said/she said structure, with estranged spouses Bram and Fi Lawson telling their accounts of a crime with two different agendas: Fi is being interviewed for a documentary called ‘The Victim’, while Bram, on the run, is penning a confession before a planned suicide. Pip’s design tells us at a glance that there are two sides to this story, and yet it’s no neat mirror image, no classic light/dark, hero/villain, ‘whose side are you on?’ situation here. It’s something more complicated than that, a dangerous and twisted game of Spot the Difference. (And there’s a cool detail with the birds on the roof that will make sense once you’re inside the story.)
So we had our two covers and everyone was happy. Then early feedback within Berkley suggested readers might want to see an exterior shot of a house on the cover of a book called Our House rather than the moody interior we loved. The UK photograph was shared. The new US design by Katie Anderson takes the same house and gives it a stark, one-shot perspective, with a vibe that’s just right: something dark and unwelcome is threatening the cosy living arrangement below. Any sense of security is purely false.
So I love both covers and I love that they’re so closely related.
After all, it’s the same story inside and the same hope on both sides of the pond: that when you, the reader, open the door to this story, you won’t want to leave until you find out the truth.