The Aha! Mo­ment

Art Di­rec­tor Keith Hayes and Ed­i­tor Caro­line Bleeke of Flat­iron Books

Poets and Writers - - Feature - MICHAEL BOURNE is a con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor of Po­ets & Writ­ers Mag­a­zine.

WHEN Neel Patel first imag­ined the pub­lished ver­sion of his de­but story col­lec­tion, If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi, he pic­tured a cover de­signed to look like a tra­di­tional In­dian wed­ding in­vi­ta­tion, com­plete with swirling let­ter­ing and elab­o­rate Hindu iconog­ra­phy.

Patel passed along his sug­ges­tion for the cover de­sign to Caro­line Bleeke, his ed­i­tor at Flat­iron Books, who men­tioned the idea to Flat­iron’s ex­ec­u­tive art di­rec­tor, Keith Hayes, who cre­ates book cov­ers for the New York City– based pub­lish­ing house. So Patel was sur­prised when he and his lit­er­ary agent, Jenni Fer­rari-Adler, saw the cover Flat­iron planned to use— sur­prised, he is quick to note, in a good way.

“Jenni and I, when we first saw it, we didn’t know what to make of it be­cause it was so dif­fer­ent from what we were ex­pect­ing,” Patel says.

“But now when I see it, it looks re­ally great. It’s stun­ning. What I love about it is it doesn’t have that In­dian mo­tif on it, and it speaks to how mod­ern and pro­gres­sive the col­lec­tion is.”

As part of a con­tin­u­ing se­ries, Bleeke and Hayes dis­cuss how they ar­rived at the cover de­sign for Patel’s story col­lec­tion, which was pub­lished by Flat­iron in July.

Be­fore Hayes joined Flat­iron in 2016, he was the art di­rec­tor at Lit­tle, Brown, where he de­signed now­iconic cov­ers for Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (2013) and Maria Sem­ple’s Where’d You Go, Ber­nadette? (2012), among oth­ers. Bleeke, who has worked at Flat­iron since 2014, is the sub­ject of “A Day in the Life of a Book Ed­i­tor” (page 72).

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