Liz Casal Details Her Process for the Cover of Wrecked

Liz Casal is a book cover designer who is responsible for a number of incredibly thoughtful works. Among them is the cover for Maria Padian's novel Wrecked, published by Algonquin Young Readers. Here she states the process by which she designed it.


My job as cover designer is to give books a face, and this gut-wrenching, mind-wrecking book didn’t make that easy. I began by reading the manuscript to comb for visuals and get a sense of the tone. It’s about the fallout after a campus sexual assault. Hazy memories. Stress. Anger. Let’s just say a lot of dark “feels.” But also youth and hope. I knew right away that this cover had to be graphic and iconic, and Laura Williams at Algonquin agreed. I jumped right into illustrated comps. Watercolor bruises, black rivers of mascara, a faceless girl. And then I thought of the really sad part in the book when the victim’s whiteboard on her dorm door is vandalized. It struck a chord because something similar happened to me in college--a guy I “rejected” taped a very rude letter on mine (which I left up because it was more humiliating for him than for me, but that’s another story for another time!). The iconic whiteboard is a staple of college life--your name and your roommates’ names are written on it on day one, then your neighbors add scribbles and smileys (and other immature things), creeper dudes tape letters to it, etc. I felt this was a visual worth exploring.

Emotive, smeary handlettering caged in by a storm of hot pink scribbles just felt right. The white space smudged out for “a novel,” the violating scribble, and the underlined “a novel” below create a subtle illustration that symbolizes the other students’ heated participation/spectatorship in the case. Everyone has an opinion, many are cruel, all leave a mark. But it’s just a bunch of scribbles, right? The marks on the whiteboard can be erased back to a clean slate, but the same can’t be said of the victim. This is the book’s face.

Design Editor, Painter, Designer, Lifelong bibliophile.


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