January 7, 2019

Some thousands of words about covers

So I want to share something with you today, but first, some backstory.

Recently, during a panel at Denver Comic Con, some authors discussed whether book cover artists actually read the books they illustrate. My position was that mine did, at least since I publish in the US.

I know this isn't always the case. Never was, never will be. It's how the industry works. For my first novel, Dormir amb Winona Ryder, released by a big Catalan publisher, designers sent me five proposals that were, at best, illustrations based on two-word concepts jotted down by someone who had read it. Emphasis on "at best": one was just a flower pattern. We went with a sixth proposal, just as random.

For my next book, Vallvi, I insisted (tooth and claw) on drawing the cover myself. In the end, they accepted the illustration, but went with their own design. (Left is the actual book, right is my proposal.)

This said, I have good reasons to affirm that my cover artist at Doubleday, Michael J. Windsor, reads my books before doing his job. First, I've met him and he's told me so. Second, just check out the back of the jacket for This Body's Not Big Enough.

That little thing in front of the car is a roadrunner. The roadrunner is a very minor theme in the book. No way a synopsis, even a thorough synopsis, would mention it. This is the kind of thing that tells me whether the artist has read the book or not.

And now, here's what I wanted to share: this design for the Brazilian edition of Meddling Kids is clearly by someone who has *SO* read the book.

The illustration, I'm told, is by Jefferson Costa and Antônio Rhoden. And I think it's my favorite design for anything I've written, ever. It's not that the looks are perfectly dark and fun, it's not just Kerri's lavish red hair and the car that really looks like a Vega Kammback Wagon (and I even like the color). I mean... let's zoom into some details:

That little Kerri there seems to be reading something longer than a mysterious note to the BSDC. I'd say she's reading a love letter. (Also, check out the six-limbed wheezies!)

A figure lurking from the *round* attic window of Deboën Mansion. That's a very accurate rendition of my words.

And that's Pierce in Andy's hand. What can I say. Bravo, Brazil. Hope you enjoy the book as much as the artists seem to have.

December 21, 2018

Santa Must Die

It's been eleven years since I wrote this holiday-themed page for El Jueves. It was one of my first contributions to that magazine, and it's still one of my all-time favorites, so I just translated it to English. Art is by the beautiful Catalan cartoonist Gras.

2018 has been a(nother) terrible year nationally (goes for both my countries), but very good personally. Thank you to those of you who made it so. Happy holidays.

November 9, 2018

The Process

Often in panels and Q&A's comes up a question about the writing process, so it's reasonable to think this might interest somebody.

Rules I usually follow when I write

- I start writing long before I have a plan, the minute I come up with a first paragraph. I don't do lay-outs or synopsis. Usually all I have is a premise, and an idea for a climax; I'll come up with the middle as I go.

- I write in the order people will read it, never skip ahead. Not a chapter, not a graph. If I'm stuck thinking of a good joke, I'm stuck. I don't write a bad joke, I don't write "[insert joke]".

- I don't write drafts. The first version has to read like a finished work. It's not the finished work; I edit a lot; but it has to be a finished work.

- I don't bother to figure out things that won't be in the book. If I'm not talking about a character's background, they don't have one.

- I try to keep the number of characters at a minimum.

- I do little research. It's boring, and it tends to contradict or nuance the more interesting scenario that I had envisioned.

- Brevity is an underestimated quality.

Rules I'm following in my current work in progress

- None of the above.

October 16, 2018

The Meddler

So let's say you read Meddling Kids. Let's say you liked it.

Let's say you thought, "I wish there was a sequel."

"The Meddler." A quick short story set in the aftermath of Meddling Kids. Part of the Spooky Short Stories collection by Penguin Random House, now online. For free. Please enjoy.

WARNING: Huge spoilers for Meddling Kids ahead.

September 20, 2018

Event Alert: New York Comic Con!

My schedule for NYCC 2018. Check yours, see if we can meet.


- Sunday, October 7, 12-1 pm
- Knopf Doubleday Group Booth (2204-J)

PANEL: "Weirdness Accessible"

- 1:30 pm.
- Room 1A18


- 2:45 pm.
- Hall 1A Author Autographing Area

All locations at Javits Center. 655 W 34th St, New York, NY