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  • Writer's pictureSofiya Pasternack

Black Bird, Blue Road COVER REVEAL!!!

Okay, first of all, I need to talk about how lucky I am with cover artists. I have honestly had amazing covers, and this third one is no different. I've been spoiled, completely. Good luck to any of my future editors.

This is going to be a looooong post about the cover process, but without further ado...




And if you want to extra help me out, please preorder from my BookShop store!


Isn't that cover AMAZING?!?!?!? Let's look at it again...

Oh, I didn't tell you there's a back too, did I? Well... there is!

So who are these people anyway? Well, let's start with the front. On the left is Ziva, the POV character, and her brother Pesah on the right. The two are twins, and the story begins on their twelfth birthday. Pesah has an advanced form of Hansen's disease--AKA leprosy. He and Ziva are attempting to find a cure for it, but so far have come up with not a whole lot of success.

To make matters more complicated, during their birthday party, Pesah has a prophetic vision where he sees the Angel of Death come for him on Rosh Hashanah, a month away. This spurs Ziva into action, and she takes Pesah from their home in Atil with intent to get him more robust medical care in Constantinople, across the Black Sea.

But they never make it. On the way, they're waylaid by highwaymen... and the strange, scarred, magical boy indentured to them.

That magical boy is on the back! Almas is a half-sheyd (demon) who was bound to an incantation bowl. When Ziva accidentally frees him from the bowl, he enters into her debt and can't be truly free until he assists her with... something.

The something is right behind Almas on the back cover: Luz, the mythical city of immortality! Created by the Angel of Death itself, Luz is the only place in the universe where the Angel of Death is forbidden to go. Everyone inside its walls is safe from death or disease, so it's definitely the best place to take Pesah.



My editor emailed me with samples from a couple different artists way back at the end of 2021. One of the samples I got was this one:

WELLLLLLL I freakin loved it. The artist, Safiya Zerrougui, stole my heart with this sample, especially the girl on horseback. Back when I learned Farsi a million years ago, I got really into the Shahnameh, the Book of Kings, and the stories in it. The copies I had were illustrated, and the art style of the girl on the horse is very reminiscent of the style of the illustrations in the Shahnameh.

I had also just gotten back from Morocco in June of 2021, and all the other images in this sample took me right back to the High Atlas Mountains, the incredible food, the steamy mint tea, and the sun setting behind argan trees.

And then when I checked out out Safiya's website, I saw that she had organized #Artmazigh, a yearly social media spotlight on North African creators! Amazigh, meaning "free people," is what the indigenous peoples of North Africa call themselves in one of their native languages, Tamazight. (You're probably familiar with the term "Berber," which is a Greek word and not used in North Africa.) While I was in Morocco, I kept seeing signs in writing that looked SO COOL, and the inner linguistics nerd in me desperately needed to learn it.

So... I did. The alphabet, anyway. Not the language. Tamazight is hard, y'all. But the alphabet (tifinagh) wasn't too difficult to figure out! Especially with a background in Arabic script and pronunciation.

After seeing some of Safiya's artwork with the characters' names written in tifinagh, I knew her art was the right choice.


So I got that art sample, and then Safiya sketched a B&W cover.

Just a sketch. Just black and white. Ziva doesn't even really have legs. BUT I loved it anyway! I loved them both front and center, Pesah in wheelchair, and that ominous shadow falling over them. YESSSSSSSS! And that's what I said in response. YESSSSSSS!

And then I waited for the sketch to get worked on, for the colors to be added, all that fun stuff. I kept myself busy with revisions and work and my family, and then one day, I got an email with the title "Color Cover Sketch."

I hit OPEN on that email so fast I think I broke the sound barrier.

And this is what I saw, and I screamed, and scared my dog:

OHMYGOSH I just about lost my entire mind. This was my first time seeing Almas on the back, and I LOVED his design! Pesah's kippah was visible now, and the coin in his hand. I loved the earring on Ziva, even though she wouldn't have worn them. I kinda wanted to edit the book so she did wear earrings, just so I could keep that on the cover!

And... the apples. The piles and piles of apples on the back. So accurate, so important! The city through the gate! The details on the clothing and the spine and AHHHH!!!!

Oh, I didn't show you the whole jacket yet, did I? Well...

We're fiddling with a couple final details, but this is basically it.

And, reader, I am in love with it.

I'm so grateful to Safiya for her amazing work, for reading the whole book and really adding in those little details, for being so nice and kind when I emailed her to say "alkudahldkiahflksf pretty pictures."

And I owe the whole team at Versify, Clarion, and HarperCollins a huge amount of gratitude for the art design, for the interior chapter design (which is also very beautiful!), and for helping me polish this story into something truly remarkable. I think, as authors and artists, every project we complete is better than the last, and I can unequivocally say that this book is the most moving, the most emotionally poignant, and the most comfortably devastating book I've written yet.

I can't wait to write the next one.


meet sofiya!

Sofiya Pasternack is a mental health professional, the highly-distractible author of Jewish MG and YA fantasy, and prone to oversharing gross medical stories.

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