Last week, I think, I said something about how we rarely ever do cover reveals here on DiversifYA. And honestly, we try to focus on interviews above all. They’re our core business after all. But sometimes, just sometimes, very special things happen. UNDER THE LIGHTS was one of them. This is another.

Because as you may know — and if you don’t, where have you been? — the other half of the DiversifYA team, the wonderful Sarah Benwell, has a fantastic book coming out next year! THE LAST LEAVES FALLING is full of hope, pain, and beauty. It’s one of the most heartwrenchingly perfect debuts I’ve ever read. And I couldn’t be more prouder to have the US cover here on DiversifYA!

Sarah: So I LOVE my UK cover. I do. It’s bright and striking and has the tiiiiiiniest flattering hint of Murakami to it.


But today is all about the US cover.

Every writer has cover dreams right? The ones where it’s so perfect that it’s like somebody reached into the darkroom of your head and pulled out images you hadn’t even seen yet. And the nightmares, where your little book is swaddled in something so not it.

I worried about this. Mostly in terms of representation. My MC is Japanese. He uses a wheelchair. And I’ve heard the stories. I’ve had friends whose characters are whitened, beautified, had their disabilities hidden on the covers because it’ll ‘help sales’. So when my editor David Gale asked me whether I had any ideas about the cover, my one request was that if they wanted my MC on there, they remember who he is. Still, I worried.

And then I got swept up in everything else and the cover was a distant thought, nervous hope, quiet curiosity.

Until I saw the copyright page, and:

Illustration: Yuko Shimizu.

I froze. I know that name.

Yuko Shimizu: artist of dark, weird, beautiful things, possibly most well known as the illustrator of Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN covers and THE UNWRITTEN covers.

A series of very, very bouncy squee-filled emails (Sorry, Liz!) confirmed it. The Yuko Shimizu was busy working on a cover for my book.

Um, WHAT?!

Cue weeks and weeks of fangirling and stalking her site (here, if you haven’t seen all her work) and daydreaming.

And then THIS appeared in my inbox.

Oh. My. God.

You guys. Look!


It really, truly is like she reached into my head. I love it. It’s beautiful. And I could not be happier.

Also: Want more Yuko art for your collection? YOU CAN OWN THE PRETTY. It’s pre-orderable on Amazon now!

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