Most of Stephanie Perkins’ readers likely know her for her romantic YA best-sellers like Anna and the French Kiss and Isla and the Happily Ever After. So when it came time to create the cover for her newest book, a horror thriller called There’s Someone Inside Your House, Perkins and the design team wanted to make a statement.
“My previous novels were sweet and romantic, so it was crucial to have an honest cover,” Perkins says. “This is a teen slasher. There’s plenty about the writing that still feels like me — the characters, dialogue, an intriguing boy — but there’s also a ton of blood and murder! I don’t want to mislead readers.”
Lindsey Andrews, cover designer at Penguin Young Readers, says, “I wanted to make sure we created something bold and eye-catching that would immediately show her audience that this is something new and yet you’ll still get the Stephanie Perkins you know and love. It’s no coincidence that this cover gives a friendly little nod to Anna and the French Kiss. I hope it brings in some new horror fans as well!”
“We came up with a ton of different possible ideas and directions,” Andrews continues, “but I knew that I wanted the title to be the star. It evokes the creepy factor all on its own.”
Andrews chose prominent designer Sean Freeman for the job, noting his portfolio highlights like the chilling, smoke-covered jacket he created for Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep. “We tossed ideas around: pools of dripping blood, unsettling mutated type, type made of shadows… until we finally landed on the idea of playing with light and dark through projections and how that interacts when projected over an object or setting,” Andrews explains.
Taking the theme of the “house” from the book’s title, Freeman says they focused on how they could make a cover feel scary without showing violence or blood outright. “We considered projecting the title type on the exterior of a house at night, but with the title being quite evocative of someone watching you — we thought the danger felt more imminent and menacing from inside, enhancing the feeling of proximity,” he says. “We thought the staircase was a good symbol of these rural houses featured in the book, [and] also translated well with this idea of a scary chase in the dark.”
Instead of designing the cover digitally, Freeman and the team actually painted and assembled several different wooden miniature staircases on which to project the title. They placed the stairs in different “rooms” to see how the title would crawl across different surfaces, and experimented with different fonts, light intensities, and colors.
“The biggest challenge was to play with the light itself, as any slight little movement distorts the lettering and wraps elements in a whole different way — creating an entirely different scene each time,” Freeman says.
For Perkins, the jacket ended up being exactly right — deceptively appealing, but ultimately disconcerting. “There were a few options that were very gorgeous and modern and sleek, but they weren’t quite right for this story, which takes place in rural America,” she says. “I’m thrilled with the final cover. I love the glowing neon pink, which is such an unusual choice for horror. It’s automatically unsettling. That pleases me.”
And here’s our exclusive reveal of the final cover: