The first thing I thought when we finalized my book deal last September was, “I need a website.” As someone who works in Internet marketing and has been blogging (and reading blogs voraciously) for years, I knew that the best asset a debut author can have is a home on the web, a portal through which they can be easily recognized, known, and accessed. This is especially true for YA writers, I think, because the audience for YA (both adult and actual teenagers) is so web savvy.

I had a lot of grand plans for my site. I actually remember the lightning strike that brought home what I wanted the design to look like, which is pretty much what it looks like. By the time we started working on the design we had the finished cover art for the book, but I wanted my website to be a place that revolved around me (how solipsistic is that?!), not one book in particular. All Unquiet Things is my first book, but it won’t be my only book, so the site needed to be representative of me and my work as a whole, so we didn’t have to keep changing the design every time I had a new book out.

Nevertheless, I wanted the site to tie in to All Unquiet Things in some way. The idea of using matryoshka dolls (a matryoshka doll plays a small but vital role in AUT’s plot) came to me early, when my editor asked for cover design ideas–it was the only one I had, and obviously they didn’t use it, which I’m grateful for because I love my cover. But I didn’t think that the matryoshka doll idea was a bad one, so I decided to use it for my website design instead. Nested dolls work as a metaphor for a few different things in the book, and they mean a lot to me as a symbol, plus I like them. I own several and I think they’re pretty. They go a long way to represent me as a person and my goals as a writer and the themes of the book.

I look at a lot of websites, and I always think of them as either “day” sites or “night” sites–day sites are light colors and night sites are almost always black. I wanted a day site, because even though my book is dark I’m actually a funny, light-hearted person for the most part and I wanted the site to evoke that. I also love blue, so the robin’s egg color of the background was perfect. Luckily, my cover was also light colored and simple, so it fits in with the design really well, and you’ll notice that my designer pulled colors from the cover–the green, the red, the blue–so it’s all very complementary.

I’m so happy with the site. I think it represents me and what I want to be doing really well. I tried to inject as much of my personality as possible into the content (it’s so jokey and chatty because that’s the kind of person I am) so that people could really get to know me and feel as though I am approachable. All Unquiet Things is a serious book, mostly, but while I can be serious, I’m usually not, and I wanted people to see that.

The best thing about the site is that it’s built on the WordPress platform, which is the best. Every day while we were putting it together I’d get an IM from my designer saying, “I love WordPress!” He was having so much fun exploring the functionalities and marveling at how streamlined and beautiful the code is. I love it, too. It’s so easy for me to update; I don’t need anyone to maintain it for me, or add content, which is great because I have the skills to take care of my own site (for the most part) and I like the ability to control and change things whenever I feel like it.

This is especially important because I plan on making the whole site into a virtual Easter egg hunt. Following along with the matryoshka theme, my designer and I are going to embed little images of the dolls that lead to hidden pages. I have this vision of nested pages within nested pages, all of them revealing hidden content (stuff from my notebooks or sneak peeks of works in progress or playlists or puzzles or giveaways…the possibilities are endless!). I don’t have all the content ready, but hopefully we’ll get the beginnings of this project (in my head, it’s ongoing and consistently changing) up in a week or two.

If anybody has feedback on the site or something they might like to see in the hidden content areas, feel free to comment here or on my own blog or email me.

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