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After teenager Colleen Truskey snapped a photo of her friend Sarah Beth Penny, neither was prepared for Random House to ask to use it on a book cover.
Courtesy Dorothy Nguyen
Cave Spring High School seniors Sarah Beth Penny (left) and Colleen Truskey. Truskey's photograph of longtime friend Penny graces the dusk jacket of "Flutter," a young adult science fiction novel.
"Flutter" is a young adult science fiction novel by Chicago author Gina Linko.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Thousands of young artists hope to break into the New York publishing scene.
Cave Spring High School senior Colleen Truskey did it by posting a portrait of a friend online.
Colleen's photograph of longtime friend and fellow Cave Spring senior Sarah Beth Penny graces the dust jacket of "Flutter," a young adult science fiction novel by Chicago author Gina Linko . It was released Oct. 23 by Random House Books for Young Readers.
"Flutter" follows the adventures of 17-year-old Emery, a teenage girl troubled by seizures, that she calls "loops," during which she seems to travel through time. She escapes the hospital where she's being kept when she discovers the town she has seen in her visions is a real place.
As Linko explained in an email, "in the moment before she seizes, which she believes takes her into time-traveling, she has some warning signs - smelling ammonia, her eyelids fluttering, etc. And this photo sort of caught the emotion and motion of that moment for Emery. Sort of a creepy/cool vibe.
"Also, later in the book, the way she explains her time traveling, she uses the curls in her hair as a visual. So, the curls of her hair underneath the title are super cool," Linko wrote.
Because of Colleen's photo, Sarah Beth is now the "face" of Emery. In fact, Linko asked Colleen to shoot footage of Sarah Beth made up as the character for the official book trailer.
Colleen (who is a staff member of The Roanoke Times teen page) took the photo, called "Trespasser: The Sybil," as part of a series created while the pair were both sophomores. She uploaded the entire series to the website
DeviantArt.com, a social networking site for artists where thousands of images can be found, from crude doodles to professional digital art. Artists can network on the site, and use it to sell work.
When Colleen received a message from the Random House design department through her DeviantArt page, she at first wondered if it was authentic.
Colleen declined to discuss the details of her Random House deal. She doesn't feel that she necessarily has as "in" with the publishing industry - she sees her windfall as a fluke, and doesn't expect lightning to strike twice.
In fact, though she has a passion for art, it's anthropology she's weighing as a collegiate pursuit.
Likewise, Sarah Beth doesn't plan to pursue a career in modeling. She's enrolled in George Mason University, planning a double major in dance and broadcast journalism.
The pair, both 18, answered a few questions via email about this remarkable turn of events.
Q: How does it feel being the "face" of a book character?
Sarah Beth: Well, I have loved reading my entire life. I have hundreds of books in my room that serve as my escape from reality and the characters I encounter inspire me every day.
The idea that I could be the face of such a character for other book lovers out there is pretty incredible and, honestly, very scary. There is a lot of pressure for me to live up to the beautifully interesting and original character that Gina Linko created.
Q: What was the concept behind the portrait?
Colleen: Well, I had gotten my hands on a beautiful haori, a traditional Japanese kimono jacket, a few weeks prior that I thought would photograph beautifully, so I asked Sarah Beth and another good friend of mine, Kendall Scott , to help me out with the shoot.
When I started, I had an entirely different photo in mind that I really wanted to capture, and the photo Random House decided to use just sort of happened by accident.
Sunlight struck Sarah Beth's face in a way that I liked, so I snapped a few photos and "The Sybil" happened to be one of them.
Q: How did you react when Random House contacted you?
Colleen: When I first read the message, I was stunned. Of course my parents were concerned that it was some sort of hoax, but I was a bit more hopeful (for obvious reasons) that it was the real deal.
We did a fair amount of research, and when it turned out to be a genuine request, I was thrilled. I couldn't wait to share the news with Sarah Beth!
Q: How did you feel when you heard Random House asked for Colleen's photo?
Sarah Beth: When Colleen first called me to tell me about Random House's interest in the picture, she had to repeat it a good 30 times before it finally started to dawn on me that it might happen. I was in complete shock, but I was extremely excited.
It was crazy to us that something so amazing could come out of a last-minute photo shoot that we had decided to do just for fun.
Q: How does it feel to see your work on a book cover?
Colleen: To be honest, it's rather surreal. When I see the cover on my bookshelf or online I have to remind myself that it's actually my photo. It's a great honor knowing that someone thought my work was worthy enough of a book cover!
Sarah Beth: It is possibly the weirdest feeling in the world to be browsing in Barnes and Noble or surfing Amazon and suddenly see my face on the cover of a novel. I have to admit, I wasn't prepared for it at all. But, in the lamest terms, it's been awesome!
It is like my childhood dream being played out in front of me. Finally, I am 'in' the novels that I love and 'experiencing' the adventure.
Q: Have you read "Flutter"? How does your image fit?
Colleen: I'm probably biased, but I do feel that the photo accurately portrayed the main character, Emery, in the book, particularly after Random House edited the photo to better fit Emery's characterization (Sarah Beth isn't actually a redhead).
Q: What was it like shooting the trailer?
Colleen: Well, I have very limited experience with film, but I had received specific instructions from Ms. Linko concerning what she was looking for to supplement the footage she already had.
We had to dye Sarah Beth's hair red and find blue contact lenses to ensure she looked as she did on the cover . We went to the same location we did for the original photo shoot, and roped an acquaintance of Sarah Beth's into helping us portray Emery's love interest, Ash.
I tried to capture the same elements that were in the original photo - the light, the mood - and blend them with what I knew about the book at the time. It's funny to think that we spent hours filming and that only a few seconds were actually used in the final trailer.
Sarah Beth: Shooting the book trailer for "Flutter" was so much fun! We spent an entire day out in a beautiful setting getting creative and having a great time.
Q: What are your goals as a photographer?
Colleen: I love photography dearly; it's a major artistic outlet for me, and it's difficult to imagine my life without it.
As much as I love it, though, I plan on keeping it as just a serious hobby. "Flutter" was a fantastic experience that taught me quite a bit, but it was probably just a one-time deal, and I'm content with that.
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