S.J. Kincaid’s The Diabolic is one of our most anticipated YA releases of the fall. It centers on Nemesis, a ruthless, not-quite-human assassin in a futuristic world. She’ll do anything it takes to save the life of the senator’s daughter she was made to protect—including standing in for her as a hostage of their galaxy’s mad emperor. While hiding her abilities and waiting for a brewing revolution to reach the emperor’s doors, Nemesis discovers there’s more to her than violence. Here’s Kincaid on why she loves her cover.
originated from a single image in the first scene I wrote for the story: Nemesis sees Sidonia and notes, “I couldn’t stop staring at this odd little creature, small and trembling, with dark hair and skin and a nose that had never been broken. I knew what this creature was. This was a real girl.”
I can’t even recall writing that first snippet of The Diabolic It was in a time when I had bits and pieces of maybe twenty, thirty different stories, trying to find traction.
For some reason, I kept coming back to that single page of those two girls, Nemesis and Sidonia. I kept wondering about them, wondering what sort of person Nemesis was that it struck her as notable when someone’s nose had never been broken. I wondered why she regarded Sidonia as a “real” girl, which implied she wasn’t one herself.
However many drafts, however many changes I made, those first questions about Nemesis and Sidonia and their dynamic remained. The girl who took for granted someone’s nose should have been broken and a ‘real girl’… Those two aspects informed the entire narrative.
I think that’s why I love this cover so very much, because it captures that perfectly.
THE DIABOLIC is the story of Nemesis, this dangerous, almost inhuman girl, trying to hide every part of her that renders her deadly to pose as Sidonia in this dangerous political climate… Yet in a way, Sidonia’s humanity and Nemesis’s inhumanity make Nemesis more suitable than Sidonia ever could be for the games of power ahead. It’s a story about a girl who regards herself as utterly inhuman, as something less than a person, who discovers amid this perilous charade that there’s something more to herself than she ever imagined. It’s about this physically lethal girl who is hiding her nature encountering this mentally brilliant boy concealing his, and the dangerous enemies they face together.
I think I love this cover by Lizzy Bromley so much because it encapsulates the truth about Nemesis. Not only does the butterfly suggest both the lovely, delicate guise of Sidonia, and the true nature of Nemesis hidden within, but those two sides are joined into a single, appealing yet still dangerous whole. It exhibits the heart of the story of not only Nemesis and Sidonia, but also Tyrus.
The cover also exhibits the dynamic that has been central to the story since its very first sentences. I couldn’t have asked for an image more appropriate. I knew the moment I saw it that this was the right cover for THE DIABOLIC, which as an author, is a rare and wonderful feeling. I hope readers respond to it as well!