Confession: Books about toxic friendships are my crack. Make it a psychological thriller and add in some more-than-friendship line-blurring and you have literally combined all my favorite things into one book. Enter Underneath Everything, a debut contemporary YA that looks to be everything I could never have adequately vocalized I wanted. Here to share a little more about it and explain why that creepy-cool cover is such a perfect fit is author Marcy Beller Paul.
When describing Underneath Everything in a Publishers Weekly article, my very wise agent, Michael Bourret, said: “It’s a thriller, but I think it’s also the kind of book people are looking for when they say they want contemporary fiction.”
Whenever I read that quote I always end up nodding my head, because from the first draft, this book has refused to be a single thing.
It’s contemporary fiction. It’s a psychological thriller. It’s about love. It’s about friendship. It’s about a girl and a boy. It’s about a girl and a girl. It’s about sex. It’s about self.
Naturally, this led me to worry about the cover. If Underneath Everything wouldn’t sit still for me, how was it going to let itself be captured in a single image?
I calmed my nerves by scouring the internet for covers I loved and making a list of scenes and images from the book, but the truth is, I had no idea what I was doing. That’s why I’m the writer, and the wonderfully talented Sarah Creech is the designer!
The first image I saw from Sarah was beautiful—striking, sexy, dangerous—but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something crucial was missing. We talked it over with the team at Balzer+Bray and they agreed. A few weeks later, I got another email with an attachment. I was so nervous to open it! But as soon as I saw the image, I knew Sarah had captured the tone of the book perfectly. The cover is dark, but not without light. There is a girl, but her downcast eyes don’t give us access. The image feels at once real and dreamlike. Even the font is perfect—uneven and handwritten like a high school note.
My favorite element is the overlay. I love that from a distance it looks like a spiderweb, because in many ways the book is about being caught up in something, and figuring out what it means to be free. When you look closely, though, you can see there are numbers and words next to the lines. It’s not a spiderweb at all, but a survey map. This particular type of map is such an important element of the story and I was floored when I saw how Sarah incorporated it.
I’m grateful to the entire team at Balzer+Bray for taking the time to create a cover that so perfectly conveys my book. I can’t wait to see it on the shelves in October!
Underneath Everything is available for pre-order now.