Rumpus Exclusive: Cover Reveal for Foreshadow


We are thrilled to bring you this exclusive first look at the cover of Nova Ren Suma and Emily X.R. Pan’s forthcoming anthology, Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA, forthcoming from Algonquin Young Readers on October 20, 2020.

Foreshadow is so much more than a short story collection. A trove of unforgettable fiction makes up the beating heart of this book, and the accompanying essays offer an ode to young adult literature, as well as practical advice to writers.

Featured in print for the first time, the thirteen stories anthologized here were originally released via the buzzed-about online platform Foreshadow. Ranging from contemporary romance to mind-bending fantasy, the Foreshadow stories showcase underrepresented voices and highlight the beauty and power of YA fiction. Each piece is selected and introduced by a YA luminary, among them Gayle Forman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jason Reynolds, and Sabaa Tahir.

What makes these memorable stories tick? What sparked them? How do authors build a world or refine a voice or weave in that deliciously creepy atmosphere to bring their writing to the next level? Addressing these questions and many more are essays and discussions on craft and process by Nova Ren Suma and Emily X. R. Pan.

Below, Nova and Emily discuss Foreshadow, the cover design process, and their literature backgrounds that led to the creation of the Foreshadow platform. Then, cover designer Sarah J. Coleman shares her inspiration for the cover of Foreshadow


Nova: I first discovered Sarah J. Coleman’s work when she created the cover for my latest novel, A Room Away from the Wolves, and absolutely floored me with its magic and beauty. I’ve since spent many hours admiring her prolific cover portfolio. As soon as our editors told us that Sarah would be creating the cover for the Foreshadow print anthology, I knew without a doubt that it would be wonderful.

Emily: I especially love that it calls back to the way we styled the word “FORESHADOW” on our digital platform. It’s so thrilling to have arrived at this iteration of the project—I think our past selves would be flabbergasted to see where that spark of an idea would take us. Do you remember when we first talked about it?

Nova: Of course! We were on the train from New York to DC for the 2017 AWP conference, and I confessed to you my secret dream to start a YA-specific online literary journal. You said, “I’ve always wanted to do that too!” And with your experience running Bodega Magazine, plus our similar taste in books, I immediately knew that we had to collaborate.

Emily: Then we had that five-hour lunch date at Veselka, which was where we decided that instead of a magazine it should be a new format—a serial anthology, published digitally, free for anyone to access from anywhere in the world.

Nova: Yes, that lunch date started everything. There were—and still are—so few venues that publish YA short stories, especially for new writers. Short stories were my own first publications, many moons ago. Writing short fiction was my first love, and I’ve never let it go. And I still try to inspire myself every morning by reading one short story before I begin writing.

Emily: What a wonderful way to light the flame! I’ve always felt that there was something so specifically magical about short stories being gathered together like pieces of treasure into an issue of a literary journal. As an unpublished writer I read them to discover new writers, and I submitted to them in hopes of being discovered. I used to go every year to the Housing Works Lit Mag Fair to thumb through the beautiful issues on display, and shyly greet the editors of journals I so admired, and lug home a towering stack of new stories and poems to read. I’d do the same at AWP, and fill up my suitcase.

Nova: Me, too. I still have a whole collection of print issues sitting on my shelves, and a series of binders containing my favorite short stories from books and magazines. (I used to call them my “anthologies.”) And that community inspires this energy beyond writing—there’s the desire to be involved in the editing and publishing of short stories. I worked on a number of literary journals when I was first studying writing. I started out as an intern at Fiction, a work-study student at The Antioch Review, and a reader for Zoetrope: All-Story, which involved curling up on a beanbag chair in their former NY office and scoring stories 1–5. In grad school I was co-editor-in-chief of COLUMBIA: A Journal of Literature & Art, and ever since I’ve dreamed of one day founding my own publication so I could be a part of editing and publishing short stories again.

Emily: I love that! I had the same burning desire. Getting to see how a journal works behind the curtain offers such a different perspective. When you’re the one scoring stories you develop a much clearer understanding of just how subjective everything is, and for me that reduced some of the sting of being rejected. I’m not quite as passionate about reading slush as you are, though—I’m much more enamored with the operations. Before I co-founded Bodega Magazine I was editor-in-chief of Washington Square during my MFA at NYU, and I loved that experience of working on something that had to go to print. It really prepared me for the world of traditional book publishing.

Nova: But Bodega is all online, right? When we first started brainstorming what Foreshadow might look like, it made sense for it to be online-only. We would save costs and have the widest reach possible. In the very beginning, that day at Veselka, we had no idea just how big this project would become.

Emily: And, of course, part of the magic that drew us to literary journals in the first place was the perdurable print—being able to hold those beautiful objects, to smell the binding and turn the pages. So it’s incredible to come full circle now by having this project result in a print edition.

Nova: It really is. Foreshadow fulfilled a dream for me, and this print anthology coming from Algonquin Young Readers expands on and celebrates that dream in a thrilling way. In the print anthology, we chose to feature only the stories by what we called our “New Voices”—the new writers, many of whom had never published fiction before. Now these thirteen short stories by a diverse group of writers across all genres are going to find a whole new audience. It was a joy to write craft pieces to pair with each of these stories and add supplemental materials like conversations, writing prompts, and other sparks of inspiration. And now this beautiful cover will showcase the print version of Foreshadow to the world!

Designer Sarah J. Coleman on the inspiration behind the cover:

I read about Nova Ren Suma and Emily X.R. Pan’s Foreshadow and its imminent publication in one of my Publishers Weekly emails, and having illustrated the cover for co-author Nova’s A Room Away from the Wolves—an eerie, moving ghost story set in Manhattan—I knew immediately I wanted—no, needed—to create the cover for this one-of-a-kind book.

In starting to put the cover together, I knew I wanted it to have atmosphere; the “foreshadowing” of the title needed to be felt as soon as you saw the cover—a distant threat, the forewarning of something over the narrative horizon—and that informed my choice of ink and bleach, making textures and skies. I focused in on my single most favorite grammatical mark—the apostrophe, comma, or single quotation mark—as a clear motif suggesting speech, dialogue, and storytelling.

I wanted layers and texture, so I worked on real papers with layers of ink, grouping author names into comma shapes and gathering many commas together to hint at a lively discussion with many voices. Many versions were created and contemplated, some with riotous color (I was aiming for a brighter kind of magic on some), but in the end, the commas won, and paired with the existing masthead from Emily and Nova’s online platform, the cover finally emerged.


All images provided courtesy of Algonquin Young Readers. Book cover design by Sarah J. Coleman.