Magic Lessons

News Flash! My first ever book-jacket photography credit appears in stores today!

Allow me to explain:

Exactly a year ago, my lovely wife Justine’s book Magic or Madness came out. In that year it has received mountains of rapturous praise. In fact, before I go on with the story, let me be a proud spouse and share my favorites blurbs with you:

“Larbalestier has wrought beautiful and fearsome magic in this novel . . . this radiant gem stands alone, but expect readers to be impatient for the rest of the trilogy.”
—School Library Journal

“In this fierce, hypnotic novel, character, story, and the thrumming forces of magic strike a rare, memorable balance.”

“A vivid and uncompromising portrayal of magic and the consequences of power.”
—Holly Black

Wonderful stuff. And even better, it comes out today in paperback and can thus be bought for a pittance.

But that’s not the point of my story, which is about me.

You see, my photo credit is in Justine’s second book, Magic Lessons, which also comes out today. Here’s how it all happened:

Justine was asked by our publisher for ideas about the cover. There’s this scene set in a wonderful and strange cemetery, one that really exists in Sydney. We tried to describe its crooked, broken headstones and giant Moreton Bay fig trees to the designer, but he couldn’t grasp what we were talking about. For one thing, he had never seen a proper Aussie fig tree before.

So we went down to the cemetery and took a bunch of pictures. Little did we know, they would wind up using our actual pictures! We rule.

One of Justine’s lovely tree photos is on the cover, and my headstone shots adorn the back. Here are the two books together:

Beautimous, eh? Here’s all the pictures we took in their raw form. (As you can see, it really is the most awesome cemetery.)

To read more about Justine’s series, go here!

17 thoughts on “Magic Lessons

  1. I really liked Magic or Madness, and can’t wait to read the sequel when my library gets it in. I can’t wait two weeks! Though maybe I can, since I spent my own money on Blue Moon, because I also couldn’t wait for that book. Magic or Madness left off on a bit of a cliff hanger. Can’t wait to see what happens! Must stop myself from buying it (no offense).

  2. No offense taken, as long as you bought, you know, my book with cold hard cash. And glad you liked MorM so much!

    But let me remind everyone, it’s okay to bug your librarian for books you want. Really, they love to hear from you guys. (Really.)

  3. That is an awesome cemetary. The headstones look so cold and morbid (and awesomely medieval) like the ones in the cemetary next to my house, but then there are tropical plants everywhere! Haha, paradox!

  4. Having just finished Magic or madness I half expected to see the Cansino family monument in those photos. The giant fig tree is awesome, but the headstones lined up against the wall with graffiti all around them is just sad. I don’t understand people who feel the need to vandalize graveyards…

  5. I went to my bookstore yesterday all ready to be the proud owner of magic lessons and they didn’t have it anywhere! They didn’t even have the first one. I was outraged enough to make the poor little old lady at the help desk go look in the delivery trucks. Thankfully it was there. So I asserted myself (a rare occurence) in order to get to that book. And I must say that so far it’s completely worth it.

    May I ask an embarassing question, though? Erm…how the heck do you pronounce Justine’s last name? I couldn’t remember the name of the new book and so I ended up dragging a copy of Uglies over and pointing at her name and saying “I want THIS.” In my defense the lady helping me had no idea how to say it either. Is it French?

    Your pictures are wonderful, being a photographer I’m always looking for great photos to duplicate, and yours are definitely some. Filomena (sp?) gnareled in the wind!


  6. Thanks for alerting folks, Scott.

    So pleased you’re enjoying the book! And that it does seem to be available.

    My surname was originally French. Here’s how I pronounce it: Lar-bal-est-ee-er. It can also be pronounced Lar-bal-est-ee-ay. Either way is fine by me. Friends at school used to pronounce it: Lavaworm. I have to really like you to let you get away with that one though.

  7. OMG! that is so freaky! when i was adding to my “book list” i added those without even knowing that she was your wife! ok i thought it was funny but it might just be me! 😀


  8. omg,
    that tree is like truely creepy.
    I love it
    and i want one.
    I think it would be cool to have one in my room.
    (yes i mean a tree)
    cause then you could read under it,
    and it would like be having a forest in my house.

    i have a weird thing about trees…

  9. Dear Scott,
    Hello! I am about to read your book (Midnighters) and I was wondering if you have ever been to Bixby, because I have visited Bixby, Oklahoma

  10. Last week, I bought a paperback copy of Touching Darkness—I love the pride of ownership that comes with purchasing something. I don’t have to give it back to anyone, I can lend it freely, AND I can scrawl words inside it: I can’t do that with a library book (unless if I’m really bad).

    I’ve lent it to my best friend. I’ve passed on my Midnighters / general books-by-Scott-Westerfeld addiction to her, like I seem to do with all series that I read. I’m surprised she isn’t finished reading it yet. I finished it in less than 48 hours, through fever and sickness—I literally could not put it down!

    You possess an excellent sense of suspense in your writing. I am so much more than ready to hunt down a copy of Blue Noon, but I have no money beyond my funds for a day-trip to New York City.

  11. That makes me want to try her books, knowing the history behind the cover and all. I know the saying goes “Never judge a book by it’s cover”, but when I go to the library or bookstore for a short period of time that’s what I judge by, albeit I am willing to take more chances in a library scenario. Anywho that tree sort of reminds me of that huge craved tree that I remember seeing in Animal Kingdom at Disney World… but only the enormosity, not the personality… that’s kind of a weird thought… the personality of a tree, but it makes sense… to me at least…

  12. I actually read MorM before I read any of Scott’s books. MorM at teh public Library, Scott’s books at the school’s.

    But . . . Okay.

  13. Great pictures. Wish the cemetaries here were like that. Ours are all plain and falling apart. It’s pitiful… Yes, I spend too much time in cemetaries lol. Anyway, yes, I saw Magic or Madness at the library and had no idea who the auther was, but now I know I’m planning to read it next chance I get. And I really do like the tree on the cover… We really don’t have anything like that around here.

  14. Yeah, I didn’t figure out the connection until after I read MorM, and I’d only read and LOVED So Yesterday. It’s not as depressing as Uglies and Midnighters can be. I will be really mad if Tally is a Special forever! That would be really unfair!

  15. Great books! I finished Magic or Madness yesterday and I finished Magic Lessons an hour or two ago. (I read REALLY fast.) I am SOOO depressed at the thought of waiting a whole YEAR before the third book comes out! I’m ready to pick it up and start reading now! LOL. I can’t believe what Reason got herself into at the end of Magic Lessons! (Sorry, not going to give it away.) I wonder what happens next…

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