Friday, March 9, 2012

Interview with Scarlett Archer - Author and Cover Designer

I'm excited today to be hosting Scarlett Archer, author and cover designer. Scarlett is the author of 1001 First Lines

She also created the fabulous cover for my book, Deadly Obsession (which you can see in the right sidebar), and is currently working on the cover for Deadly Addiction. Welcome, Scarlett!

Kristine: Why did you decide to write a book on first lines? Why are they so important?

Scarlett: I think first lines are vital to the first swell of a book, to draw the reader into the tide. I love them, I love looking at them as an art form and I realized that others might have the same inclination as I do. They're so important because they establish the setting, the speed, the agony or the ecstasy. Without a good first line a lot of people put the book down and that's it, the end!

Kristine: What's your favorite first line? Why?

Scarlett: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." Stephen King, The Dark Tower. This is my favourite because when I read it I felt like I'd been punched in the face. It still makes me reel when I read it.  

Kristine: What's your least favorite first line? Why?

Scarlett: Least favourite, I can't recall. But now I'm so focused on first lines I'm sure I'll have soon enough!

Kristine: Do you think what makes a first line great differs by genre? If so how? If not, why not?

Scarlett: With the number of first lines I had to scour I would have to say yes. And probably for the opposite reason people think so. 

First lines of chick lit are vastly different to first lines of biographies, or general non-fiction. Each genre has its own format that is followed so often - consider breaking those cliches. Become familiar with your genre and how all the first lines begin to sound the same, then get cosy with other genres. Ask yourself 'How would it sound if my fantasy/sci-fi novel opened up with the same style as a biography, or thriller?' 

Kristine: You also make book covers. What makes a book cover great?

Scarlett: A cover that doesn't give away the story, but invites the reader to pick it up. Essentially I've seen some absolutely horrific book covers but I feel compelled to pick it up and find out what it's about. You gotta give it to the designer, that's pretty effective advertising. 

But regarding good design one thing that can make or break a cover is typography. What's typography? The use of type. The layout, the format, the structure. A lot of hobbyists, and people who like playing around in Photoshop, don't realise the importance of typography. They put all their time in to the image and slap a title on there in Arial and voila. They don't realise should they put the amount of time on type as they do on everything else, they will come out miles ahead!

Kristine: What's the best book cover you've ever seen?

Scarlett: It's a series of covers done for Vladimir Nabokov's books, designed as a display case holding something inside: I find them ingenious. 

Kristine: What's the worst book cover you've ever seen?

But this made one of the best covers I've ever seen because of the title. It's fairly self explanatory. I actually own this book.  

Kristine: You are no doubt proud of all the covers you've created. But what's the one you have the biggest soft-spot for and why?


I designed this cover when I was in University. It was a project to design a book, which I was totally over the moon about! I designed it for a series of short stories I'm writing, the first titled "The Scandal". It's a series about a paparazzo in Hollywood, and the adventures she has and the trouble she gets in! 

I love this so much because it was designed with the same style of the Nabokov book designs, as a display case. The cover is a blonde girl pinned down, with tags on the pins like a butterfly. The concept is that the paparazzi are out to capture, analyse, and investigate celebrities. The book was printed and placed into a specially made wooden box with a clear plastic top. My teacher was so impressed by it she bought it off me! 

Kristine: Do you have plans to write other books? Can you tell us a little bit about those plans?

Scarlett: I'm in the middle of three different projects. One is a romantic comedy of a female cab driver in NYC [in editing mode for that], another is a dark retelling of The Wizard of Oz [in outlining for that], and the third is a novella about two children who stop ageing, and how they live through the decades. I won't bore you with the details, but I ALWAYS have plan to write books :) Writing is who I am, no matter how much I design writing is number one.  

Kristine: Anything you want to tell our readers?

Scarlett: Buying my book 1001 First Lines isn't just about having fun reading first lines, but if you're a writer I recommend it as a vital addition to your library. It has a tick list in the back to check off all the books you've read, and I spent a lot of time on the design so you won't be disappointed buying it paperback!  

About Scarlett

Scarlett Rugers (writing as Scarlett Archer) has just released a book 1001 First Lines which is now available at Amazon! You can purchase a paperback, .lit, .epub, .mobi and PDF versions here:

She has been writing for over fifteen years, completed over eleven novels, and her main drive is in speculative fiction or its contrasting opposite romantic comedic novels. She has a passion for studying the art of story telling and is a grand lover of movies. Her focus in work is book cover designs which enables her to put all her energy in to the area she loves most- literature. 

Scarlett's Amazing Cover Deal

You can get in touch with Scarlett about getting a book cover designed for you for the super affordable price of $50! But there's only 30 places for $50 and they're running out fast! Check it out at

Your Turn!

Okay, readers, here are a couple questions for you: 

  • What's the best or worst first line you've ever read? 
  • What's the best or worst cover you've ever seen?

Scarlett and I would love to hear your opinions!

Happy reading!


  1. I love your Scandal cover! Awesome! Thanks for the links to the other covers, too. It's interesting to see what works and doesn't work!

  2. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Scarlett is really a wonderful artist!

  3. Thankyou for hosting me Kristine :) It was a pleasure!

    1. You are very welcome, Scarlett! I love your work and I'm proud to share it :)