Check out the final title and cover for Georgia Bowers' debut!
Book titles are actually my arch nemesis. I either come up with something that sounds like a Point Horror novel tagline (which is no bad thing, but we are sadly no longer in the nineties), or something that already exists (a hazard of working in a library and passing the shelves daily). Dark Tilly was actually a title for a daydream project I had, where I was imagining what would have happened to Roald Dahl’s Matilda had she never met Miss Honey and she’d gone all Carrie as a teenager instead.
I thought Dark Tilly sounded cool, but I had no intention of working out how to go about writing an alternative version to Matilda, so I popped it at the top of my witchy WIP at the time. I was happy with it for many reasons, including the fact that it was a nod to one of the character’s arcs from my favorite TV show (if you haven’t watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer and don’t know about Dark Willow, I’m sorry but we can’t be friends).
Because it was sort of a borrowed title anyway, I wasn’t too fussed when my editor, Rachel, told me it wasn’t going to stay. Dark Tilly didn’t really give a potential reader any sense of what the book was about, and the team wanted a title that would appeal to a fantasy audience. I trusted everyone at Swoon HQ totally, so I was fully on board, plus I wasn’t losing "Dark Tilly" completely as it still pops up in the story. Rachel asked me to come up with some ideas, but as mentioned this is not my strong point. So, I was super relieved, and of course excited, when Rachel shared the new title, which is... drumroll…
Isn’t it perfect!? It’s creepy and witchy, plus wicked is one of my favorite ever words. It also plays on the idea that Matilda is physically marked by her magic. But is she actually wicked though? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
The next big exciting thing was the cover. Rachel told me they’d chosen artist Marcela Bolívar to do the artwork and when I opened the link to her portfolio I was shaking. Her work is absolutely incredible, and I scrolled through all her creations wondering what the cover for Mark of the Wicked would look like.
There was more shaking still when Rachel sent me the cover sketch, and yet even more shaking when I saw the final version.
I am completely in love with it. It’s eerie and atmospheric, and gives the reader a real sense of the sort of read they’re in for. Marcela has absolutely captured the vibe of the story, and Trisha Previte’s design makes the cover incredibly striking. I love how Matilda is partly obscured by the ivy and thorns because they actually feature throughout the story. Also, I think if someone looked inside my soul when I was seventeen, this cover would have been staring back at them.
I am so smitten with it that I probably gaze at the cover at least once a day and I’m taken back to writing the story. When I look at Matilda’s face, I feel like she’s in a particular scene in the book where the darkness is getting closer and closer. Read this little extract, look into her eyes, and I hope you’ll be taken there too.
“You don’t see them, do you?”
Oliver was on his knees by her side, his eyes wide and searching her face.
“See what, Matilda?”
Matilda closed her eyes as tiny little paws climbed over her legs and rested on her stomach. She opened her eyes and looked down at the one-eared rabbit on its hind legs with its front paws on her chest, its nose twitching wildly as if it were talking to her in some silent rabbit language.
The shadows were coming again, but for the first time Matilda was happy to let them swoop their cape around her and pull her down into the darkness. She took one last look at the three faces staring up at her, then lifted her head and focused on Oliver before he was consumed from her vision.
“Death,” she whispered, slumping on her side.