Shveta Thakrar stops by today to talk about seeing the gorgeous cover for her debut YA fantasy, Star Daughter, in stores August 11th. Read on for Shveta’s reaction, and to learn more about the book.
As Malinda Lo once put it, covers are the best marketing tool a book can get. For better or for worse, it’s shorthand: a good one draws a potential reader in and makes them want to check out the words inside. A bad one can make them avoid what might be an amazing novel. A good cover also gives you a sense of the book’s story and world; what kind of feeling will you get if you read it?
So of course I was holding my breath, wondering what my cover was going to look like. Would it convey the fairy-tale feel I had done my best to imbue Star Daughter with? Would it make readers want to read the book?
It turns out I didn’t need to worry. If anything, I’d won the cover lottery, and I’ll always be grateful!
Even though I was lucky enough to have my input taken from the beginning—for people who don’t know, not every author is consulted during the cover design process—and though I got to squeal from sketch to sketch, when that full and final in-color version showed up in my inbox, I almost screamed out loud in sheer amazement. I’m a very visual writer, so I’d had a vague idea in my imagination, but what Charlie Bowater and Corina Lupp came up with blew it right out of the water.
I couldn’t believe how beautiful the cover was; the care the team at HarperTeen had taken to incorporate my suggestions (Sheetal’s jewelry, her bindi, even the moonlight lotus she’s holding) showed in every bit. I hadn’t been expecting the gold details, let alone the hand-drawn title treatment, but they all work so well, highlighting the star princess Sheetal truly is.
Trust me when I say that sitting on the cover until it was time for the reveal was really, really hard, and I’m sure you won’t be surprised that I regularly pulled out my phone just to gaze at Sheetal’s gorgeous, not here for your nonsense face and grin goofily.
But the cover’s beauty alone wasn’t the only reason my heart swelled until it was almost too big for my chest. Back in my twenties, when I started writing seriously, I decided that I would write about people like me, desi Hindus who rarely if ever got a chance to shine in the North American market. Not all that long ago, when characters of color of any background did get to star in a novel, the book was often given a cover that disguised that fact. Some books even had white characters on the cover, as if readers needed to be tricked into reading about people of color!
I have never believed that to be true, and I still don’t.
For me, magic is a thing that everyone should have access to, so I am writing the books I wanted to have growing up, books about enchantment and adventure and friendship and family, and I’m doing it while incorporating the stories from my heritage. I want brown skin to be treated as attractive rather than as something to hide—and seriously, have you ever seen South Asian fashion? South Asian jewelry? It’s the stuff of fairy tales—so many colors, so much rich fabric, gold and silver and gems galore . . . To see all that celebrated right on the cover in a fantastical way that perfectly reflects the novel, well, I might be a writer who loves description, but I have no words to express just what that meant to me.
Excuse me while I go stare at it some more!
“Shveta Thakrar’s prose is as beautiful as starlight.”—New York Times bestselling author Holly Black
This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy.
The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.
Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens—and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.
Brimming with celestial intrigue, this sparkling YA debut is perfect for fans of Roshani Chokshi and Laini Taylor.
Shveta Thakrar is a part-time nagini and full-time believer in magic. Her work has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies including Enchanted Living, Uncanny Magazine, A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, and Toil & Trouble. Her debut young adult fantasy novel, Star Daughter, is forthcoming from HarperTeen on August 11, 2020. When not spinning stories about spider silk and shadows, magic and marauders, and courageous girls illuminated by dancing rainbow flames, Shveta crafts, devours books, daydreams, travels, bakes, and occasionally even plays her harp.