Crashing and Burning with a New Cover… and R.E.M.


You might recall from an earlier post that my publisher, Egmont USA, released a working cover for The Scar Boys (the book) that was modeled on what a band poster for the Scar Boys (the fictional band) might look like. The design was the result of a contest among indie booksellers, and I thought it was pretty cool. But the more we all lived with the cover — me, Egmont, the booksellers — the more we collectively thought it seemed kind of muted. It just didn’t pop.

Egmont tested that original cover, and with input from many of those same booksellers, as well as some teens, decided to make a change. They stayed true to the original band poster from the contest, incorporating it into what’s pictured here.

I love it. L-O-V-E IT!

I was also lucky enough to receive two outstanding testimonials (blurbs in the parlance of the book industry), one for the front cover and one for the back:

Front Cover Blurb: “Compelling. This book not only captures the feeling of what it is like to form a band, but also why you form a band. It took me back to that time of being in a van on my very first tour.” — Peter Buck, R.E.M.

When I was younger (a lot younger…like, a whole lot younger), I had the pleasure of meeting Peter Buck. The band I was playing in at the time, Woofing Cookies, found itself stranded in Athens, GA after our van broke down. We wound up spending three months there, and during that time, Peter produced a song for us.

We got our van fixed, came back to New York, and that song (and let’s be honest, Peter’s involvement) got us signed to a small NYC-based record label. This was just after R.E.M. had released Fables of the Reconstruction and was hitting that level of super stardom reserved for a rarified few. We were lucky to have worked with Peter, but given the different trajectories our lives, we never had the opportunity to meet up with him again.

Flash forward two decades. I approached the fine people who handle R.E.M.’s affairs — yes, even though the band broke up there is still an R.E.M. apparatus — and asked if they could get a copy of The Scar Boys into Peter’s hands. They did. He read it. He liked it. He provided a blurb. Dang that is cool. I now owe him a double debt of gratitude.

Back Cover Blurb: “A fun, smart, addictive story that will have you forgetting you are actually reading. Laced with poetic lines and real people. Highly recommended for teens and their parents and anyone else who can still remember the 80’s.” — Michael Hassan, author Crash and Burn.

Michael who? Crash and what?

Okay, I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard of Crash and Burn. My publisher had reached out to the editor to solicit a blurb, and it kind of freaked me out. I mean, what if I didn’t like this Michael guy’s book?

I left work the same afternoon we received the blurb and ordered a copy from Posman’s Bookstore. It arrived two days later and I started reading. And I kept reading. And I couldn’t stop.

Holy. Freaking. Cow!

Crash and Burn, it turns out, is a work of absolute genius. It’s the first person account of Steve Crashinsky, writing a book on how he saved his fellow students and teachers when a deranged classmate lays siege to his high school. The work is a master class in writing. The voice and the characters are pitch perfect, unbelievable in their believability. And that’s only the prose. The story itself is infectious. It gets in your head and stays there.

This book is, or at least should be, the coming of age story of the current generation of teens and twenty somethings. It’s also not just for teens. It’s a great example of why I hate labels like “young adult,” “new adult,” etc. A good book is a good book. And this book is beyond good.

So thank you Egmont for the new cover.

Thank you Peter for nurturing young artists all those years ago, and for taking the time to read my book now. (And for the years and years of awesome music. One of the first songs I played on my brand new Taylor acoustic electric guitar — more on that later — was “Sitting Still.)

And thank you Michael Hassan, not just for the wonderful endorsement, but for Crash and Burn.

Y’all rock.

7 Commentsto Crashing and Burning with a New Cover… and R.E.M.

  1. Katia JB says:

    Although the simplicity of the first cover was nice, this cover is S I C K!

  2. Sandra Bond says:

    Yes, AWESOME new cover!

  3. Len Vlahos says:

    Thanks everyone! The whole thing is really exciting…

  4. Nancy Simpson-Brice says:

    Yes, the first cover was too muted. Yes, this cover rocks!! As do the endorsements!

  5. Chelsea says:

    Love the new cover! It looks really great 🙂

  6. Carol almassy says:

    Len the new Cover is awesome. Love the red it really makes the cover pop!!

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