Blog Tour Smugglerific Cover

The Year of Shadows Cover Reveal Week Day 2: Exclusive Interviews with the Illustrator and Designer (& ARC Giveaway)

Today, we are thrilled to be a part of Middle Grade author Claire Legrand‘s Cover Reveal Blog Tour! We absolutely loved Claire’s first book, delightfully creepy MG horror novel The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, so were thrilled when we were contacted to host a spot on the cover reveal tour for her forthcoming book The Year of Shadows.

Claire Legrand

For our stop on the tour, we have the pleasure of hosting cover illustator Karl Kwansy, and Simon & Schuster art director Lucy Cummins – both Karl and Lucy give us their answers to some questions about the forthcoming book!


The Art

The official cover reveal goes down tomorrow, but today we can give you a sneak peek at some of the interior art for The Year of Shadows. Behold! The drafted interiors:

The Year of Shadows 1

The Year of Shadows 3

The Year of Shadows 2


About The Year of Shadows

12-year-old Olivia Stellatella and her father have sold all their belongings to keep her father’s orchestra from going bankrupt. Now, they live out of suitcases in the back rooms of Emerson Hall, where the orchestra performs.

Olivia hates it there.

She hates her squeaky cot and shabby clothes. She hates her father, too, for being so obsessed with music that he drove Olivia’s mother out of the house and got them into this mess. Most of all, Olivia hates the orchestra. It’s the orchestra’s fault that her father’s the way he is. She can’t wait for it to fail.

Until the ghosts come.

They’re lonely, frightened, and stuck in our world. Only if Olivia and the 12-year-old usher, Henry, can help the ghosts solve the mysteries of their deaths — deaths that are somehow related to the Hall’s past — will they be able to move on and find peace. But time — and money — is running out. The mayor wants to bulldoze the Hall to the ground, which would put Olivia and her father out on the streets and trap the ghosts in our world permanently. And other ghosts — bad ones — will do anything to keep them here. As the “ghosts of Emerson Hall” craze sweeps the city, Olivia faces life-changing family secrets and must fight for her life when her world, and the world of Death, collide.

THE YEAR OF SHADOWS is a middle grade ghost story about loss, magic, music, and the power of friendship.

The book publishes in August 2013, with Simon & Schuster BYFR. Add it to your Goodreads shelf HERE.


The Interviews

4 Questions with Cover Illustator Karl Kwansy:

karl kwasny

Q: Describe The Year of Shadows in three words.

Karl: A heartfelt adventure.

Q: What was your initial reaction after reading The Year of Shadows?

Karl: Simultaneously excited and daunted at the idea of working on the interior illustrations. It’s a fun story that manages to conjure up a lot of strong imagery.

Q: What did you use for inspiration when working on the design/illustrations for The Year of Shadows? Any particular music or images?

Karl: I wanted to make the characters very expressive, and the environments sort of wonky in a dynamic way. Emerson hall is a character unto itself, and I hope I was able to capture it. As for music, I’ve been enjoying listening to Shostakovich, Philip Glass, the Cloud Atlas soundtrack, and a couple of ambient musicians. Claire also put together a playlist featuring music that she listened to whilst writing the book, and it sets the mood brilliantly.

Q: Without giving anything away, who is your favorite character?

Karl: Igor, the curmudgeonly, deadpan cat. I tried to make him a little bit inadvertently comical in the illustrations. He’s certainly one of the highlights for me!

Find out more about Karl and his art on his website,

5 Questions with S&S Art Director Lucy Cummins:

Lucy Cummins

Q: Describe The Year of Shadows in three words.

Lucy: Girl Meets Ghost(s).

Q: What was your initial reaction after reading The Year of Shadows?

Lucy: My first feeling was the same as the first feeling I had after I read Cavendish Home—elated to be a part of a team that was making a seriously great read. And my second thought? I can’t wait to give this thing to my nieces. And my third thought? OMG I HOPE KARL KWASNY WANTS IN ON THIS. Oh and my fourth reaction? I had to get off the train at the wrong stop and double back—I seriously did board the wrong train while reading, and take it three stops before realizing my mistake. This, to me, is the highest compliment in the New York City subway reading experience!

Q: What did you use for inspiration when working on the design/illustrations for The Year of Shadows? Any particular music or images?

Lucy: The book is so evocative, visually — uniquely so. Claire has a way of building a world that’s so vivid, I feel like I could walk into the spaces she creates and move the furniture around, I can feel the temperature shift, I can see the dust and hear the echoes. This story at times felt like rain without an umbrella, but with light on the horizon.

The song that kept looping through my head the entire time I read it was—unimaginatively! — “Little Shadow” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Mega goosebump-inducing! Seriously—just an infinite loop in my head of that track. (The regular release version, but actually? The acoustic version feels like a perfect curtain-down track for this novel.)

The reading demanded to be paired with Karl Kwasny’s artwork — Karl gets dark, but he’s also a master of the brighter side of things—I can barely imagine an another artist who could do justice to this book, and do so with maximum sensitivity and beauty. Everytime I’ve gotten a new piece of artwork for The Year of Shadows it’s felt like a gift, and it always feels like his work and Claire’s writing are on exactly the same page.

For the design elements throughout the pages, and for the other areas that I had a hand in, I definitely wanted everything to have a really classic feel, but with a twist. Refined, but creepy. And I wanted the pages to have a relationship to the subject matter, too—to feel welcome in the music hall. One of the touches I’m most proud of is the fermata marks that serve as the line spacers within the reading—literally pauses.

Q: Without giving anything away, who is your favorite character?

Lucy: It’s all about Igor for me—I love his perspective, I love what he adds, and I just want to scratch his scruffy little chin. BUT. My goodness. I am/was SUCH an Olivia. Everything about that character felt relatable and true to how I felt a lot of times at Olivia’s age, and I still have erm…shades…of Olivia to this day.

Q: What can fans of The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls expect from this second novel? How is it similar? How is it different?

Lucy: I think fans will find another fantastically crafted story with lots of twists and turns, great visuals, and a fantastic, creepy sense of humor that’s very much akin to the reading experience of Cavendish. I think there’s something slightly more modern and relatable about Olivia’s world, though. And holy cow—if Igor could make cameos in every Legrand…erm…tail…from now on? I wouldn’t begrudge!

Lucy Ruth Cummins is an Art Director with Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and Paula Wiseman Books where she works on a range of titles from picture books to young adult novels. You can find out more about her and her art on her website


The Giveaway

The following items are up for grabs:

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  • Aniko
    January 30, 2013 at 4:27 am

    All three are awesome!

  • AH@badassbookreviews
    January 30, 2013 at 5:58 am

    I’d have to agree that all three are beautiful. I’m kind of partial to number 3. Nice!

  • Chris
    January 30, 2013 at 6:22 am

    Love the art in this!

  • THE YEAR OF SHADOWS Cover Reveal Week – Day 2 at The Book Smugglers! « Claire Legrand
    January 30, 2013 at 6:31 am

    […] I’m at The Book Smugglers, which is one of my faaavorite book blogs, with exclusive interviews with illustrator Karl Kwasny […]

  • Jessica Silverstein
    January 30, 2013 at 6:43 am

    I think if I had to pick I would go for the second illustration of the three–I love the contrast between the small girl and the large space. (It makes me want to just give her a hug!)

  • Ashley C
    January 30, 2013 at 6:44 am

    Favorite of the illustration sketches is by her holding Igor. Can we talk about that organ in the background? The movement and how it takes you around the image is breathtaking!

  • Claire Caterer
    January 30, 2013 at 6:58 am

    I love the middle image–Olivia (I assume) gazing up at some large, open, gothic space. Beautiful!

  • Kayla
    January 30, 2013 at 7:00 am

    The third one is my favorite, though they’re all wonderful. The third one is just so pleasantly creepy! Their faces are incredible!!

  • Linda W
    January 30, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Man I love this post, the book’s premise, and the great illustrations.

  • Ariana
    January 30, 2013 at 7:17 am

    I love that description: “This story at times felt like rain without an umbrella, but with light on the horizon.” As if I wasn’t already sold on this book! Can’t wait to see the cover.

  • Annie
    January 30, 2013 at 8:12 am

    I LOVE the sketch of the music hall. It’s beautifully wonky and exciting. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book and for the whole of the world to share in creepy awesomeness!

  • Grace Radford/Anna Pett
    January 30, 2013 at 8:40 am

    I really love the third one, because it reminds me of the Coraline movie!!! 😀 Also, it’s a little creepy. <3

  • Rebecca I.
    January 30, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Hard to pick… I love the interior design in the first and the dynamism and texture of the third!

  • Superbwg
    January 30, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Love that ghost illustration, whimsical and spooky all at the same time, can’t wait to read the book!

  • Lauren Garafalo
    January 30, 2013 at 9:12 am

    They’re gorgeous! I can’t wait until tomorrow to see the cover. I love seeing the art in its drafted form – such a good reminder that every type of art requires many stages.

  • Andrew Patterson
    January 30, 2013 at 9:23 am

    All three are awesome, but there is something about the look on the girl’s face in the second one that is just powerful. I’m not sure what it is, but it drew my eyes immediately.

    Can’t wait to see the cover! So amazing!

  • Vanessa
    January 30, 2013 at 9:29 am

    The line vaguely remind me of one of my favorites From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

  • MarieC
    January 30, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Gorgeous! Can’t wait to see the finished product!

  • Susan Crispell
    January 30, 2013 at 9:32 am

    What a brilliant concept. And the pictures are gorgeous. My niece would love this book. And I think I would enjoy the heck out of it too!

  • Jake
    January 30, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Ooh, number 3! It has many skulls. Also, the faces on the adult ghosts look so longingly tragic. It’s fabulous.

  • April V.
    January 30, 2013 at 9:54 am

    I like the second, mainly due to the inclusion of the cat but all three are excellent. The third really has some atmosphere.

  • Katrina
    January 30, 2013 at 10:05 am

    The third one. Nice and spooky.

  • Lexi
    January 30, 2013 at 10:35 am

    The second one is great. The cat makes me laugh.

  • Krispy
    January 30, 2013 at 10:49 am

    All of them are great, but I love the last one with the ghostly family. It’s so intriguing and wonderfully creepy!

  • Matthew
    January 30, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Those are some wonderful soundtracks to win. 🙂

  • Christina
    January 30, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Love it! I can’t wait to read it and see all the illustrations! So excited!

  • Anonymous
    January 30, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Oh, god. These are all so very lovely!

  • Crystal
    January 30, 2013 at 11:36 am

    These are so lovely. I’m ridiculously excited.

  • Allison
    January 30, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    I just love the second one, it’s so. . . cool

  • Lena
    January 30, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    I think I like the illustration with Olivia with Igor, the cat.
    I can’t wait for this book!

  • Heidi
    January 30, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    I love the third, because it’s by far the creepiest. I love the smoke but also the skeletal features. SO excited for this book!

  • elena
    January 30, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Oh my gosh, this is so hard to choose! I love all the illustrations. I think the first one is my favourite because it looks so promising & I love seeing the space! I also really enjoyed the interviews, Igor sounds my kind of cat. 🙂

  • Vivien
    January 30, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    I love the second one. Yay for kitties!!

  • bn100
    January 30, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    I like the second one because the animal looks cute.

  • Hannah
    January 30, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    The second one! It’s a hard choice, but the second one is the only one where we get to see the characters’ faces- which are fantastic. I also like the skewed sense of space and the way it builds up the landscape through perspective and texture. It sounds like a great book, and it is now on my TBR pile for sure.

  • Stephanie T.
    January 30, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    The second one since she’s holding a cat and the huge ceilings just makes you feel tiny.

  • Tamara
    January 30, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    The third illustration is the most dynamic, and eerie. Can’t wait to see the cover art!

  • Michelle Schusterman
    January 30, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    I’m supposed to choose???!

    I love all three, but that little skull patch on Oliva’s arm in the third pic is making me grin.

  • Kristen Evey
    January 30, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    I love ALL of these images, but I think the second is my favorite. The space is just so big and looming and Olivia’s there in the middle looking uncertain and her feet are in water(?) and she’s holding the cat (Igor?), who bears a sort of resemblance to a beaver and I just LOVE it. SO excited for this book.

  • Erica
    January 30, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    I really love all three but I am very partial to the second one 🙂

  • Stephanie
    January 30, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    I love the third one because of the ghostly appeal.

  • Julianna @ The Reviews News
    January 31, 2013 at 12:12 am

    Oh my goodness, all of those illustrations are gorgeous! My favorite one is probably the third one, though, because the ghost is SO creepy and even more intriguing. ^.^

  • FINAL COVER REVEAL — and first page! — of THE YEAR OF SHADOWS!!! « Claire Legrand
    January 31, 2013 at 7:08 am

    […] 2 of reveal week was at The Book Smugglers, which included interviews with Karl and with Simon & Schuster art director Lucy Ruth Cummins […]

  • Marie-Claire Chelini
    January 31, 2013 at 8:28 am

    The first one is gorgeous! I already imagine a superb and frightening scenario. Can’t wait to see the final cover!

  • Cassie F
    January 31, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I’d have to pick the third image. <3

  • erinf1
    January 31, 2013 at 9:55 am

    they are all awesome! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Erica
    January 31, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    I agree with what Lucy said about Clarie’s writing giving such a visual impact and can’t wait to both read the new story and see the fun illustrations.

  • Christina K.
    February 1, 2013 at 3:56 am

    My favorite illustration is the third one with the ghosts! They’re so creepy:)

    Thank you::)

  • scribe k.
    February 1, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    my favorite is the second one because it creates this great feeling of an expansive, cavernous space. i love her looking up at the ceiling, it reminds me of old libraries or cathedrals or something ancient. i just love the mood it sets.

  • Heather K.
    February 1, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    All three are great but I especially love illustration three. The ghosts are wonderfully creepy!:)

  • alicia marie
    February 1, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    I really love them all, but I think the second one’s probably my favorite. I love how it’s just Olivia standing there trying to take in all that’s going on around her : )

  • deniz
    February 1, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Great interviews! Love Shostakovitch 🙂
    I’m really looking forward to reading this – and passing it on to my nieces and nephews as soon as they’re a little older!

  • On the Smugglers’ Radar | The Book Smugglers
    February 2, 2013 at 8:14 am

    […] The Year of Shadows Cover Reveal Week Day 2: Exclusive Interviews with the Illustrator and Designe… […]

  • Sara
    February 2, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I like the first illustration because of the architectural details. Cool!

  • Tricia C.
    February 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Love the art! So envious of that type of talent. Thanks for the sneak peak!!

  • Charlotte
    February 3, 2013 at 5:50 am

    This sounds like a fascinating book!

  • Shelver506
    February 3, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Oh gosh. I like the middle one the best, I think, because it looks so expansive and will look really great with colors.

  • Being Patient with Yourself, and Finding the Book Inside You « Claire Legrand
    February 4, 2013 at 8:07 am

    […] you missed last week’s cover reveal, you should check it out! The three posts are here, here, and here. Don’t forget to comment on each post for a chance to win one of seven awesome […]

  • Elizabeth Rose Stanton
    February 4, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Looking forward to the book and the illustrations. -Can’t go wrong with the brilliant Lucy Cummins!

  • Angie
    February 6, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    I loved the 3rd one!! The creepy skeletons coming out of a sort of fire really stood out creepily compared to the rest of the illustrations.

  • Kristie Matheson
    February 6, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    I love them all, but I’d have to say the third one is my favorite! There is an awesome creep factor to it.

  • WINNERS: THE YEAR OF SHADOWS Cover Reveal Giveaway! « Claire Legrand
    February 11, 2013 at 9:19 am

    […] now, without further ado, after a good twenty minutes or so of tallying entries from IceyBooks, The Book Smugglers, Mundie Moms, and Mundie Kids, and after running the numbers through’s number […]

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