Cover Story

We all judge books by their covers, which is why so much thought and work goes into creating them.  Here, we look at the first five covers for Moonlight in Odessa.


One of the first covers that Amy King designed features the port of Odessa, which really suits the novel. As someone who had read the book, this cover spoke to me – I love the stamps and postmark, the image of the port with a sliver of a ship in the corner, the way the romantic-sounding title of the novel is offset by the stark black font. However, I could understand the point that others made — they felt that the image was ‘too quiet and literary.’


Natalie Slocum designed the second cover. The red cover is striking, and the way she has used the image of the Golden Gate Bridge as a metaphor for the American Dream is brilliant. Several people have told me that this cover made them want to pick up the book, and I feel that this cover is very strong. One reader told me that they thought the snowglobe was a crystal ball, and I really liked the ambiguity of the image.


When my editor Helen Garnons-Williams bought Moonlight in Odessa, she asked what I’d like to see on the cover. She and I both felt that the snowglobe was an important image in the novel, and I am delighted to see that this image is used on both the US and UK covers.

I appreciate how both the US and UK covers use the same symbol in such a different way. Natalie Slocum’s cover conveys the American Dream, while Sarah Morris’ wedding-top couple symbolizes wedded bliss. I love the way Sarah Morris has shown both the old city of Odessa (in dark blue) as well as the Soviet section of Odessa (in light blue).


Davy van der Elsken designed both of the Dutch covers.  This cover is a shocking image of a beautiful woman who is trapped in a box. Again, this is a striking metaphor for the novel. Of course, I love the postmark, and this allusion to the fact that on international marriage broker sites, we can look at profiles of men and women, and we can add them to our ‘hot list’, the equivalent of Amazon’s basket feature.


In the end, Mouria, the publishing house in the Netherlands decided to go with another cover. Here we see a cover that is rich in images — icons of American and Ukrainian/ Russian architechure, a wall that is crumbling down, a wedding-top couple atop a…. toilet. This is a bold cover that does not shy away from the darker aspects of the book.

Which cover is your favorite?
I don’t have a favorite. I am simply amazed by the talented artists who create such striking, powerful images for the novel.

Why do we see two different covers of Moonlight in Odessa in America?
The cream-colored cover was on the ARCs (advance reading copies), which were sent out to reviewers, bookstores, newspapers, and magazines, as well as to on-line sites such as Amazon, GoodReads, and Librarything. We have notified as many sites as possible to let them know about the change to the red cover, but it will take time for sites to change the image.