Behind the Design: ‘With the Fire on High’ Cover Process with Erin Fitzsimmons & Erick Davila


Behind the Design: ‘With the Fire on High’ Cover Process with Erin Fitzsimmons & Erick Davila

Behind the Design: 'With the Fire on High' Cover Process with Erin Fitzsimmons & Erick Davila

Emoni is a girl with talent, pride, and a drive to feed the soul that keeps her fire burning bright.

We all know by now that Elizabeth Acevedo is a superstar. Just take a look at her speech from her National Book Award win or the behind-the-scenes look at the audio recording of With the Fire on High! We can’t get enough of Elizabeth or The Poet X, which means we are SO ready for With the Fire on HighElizabeth’s amazing new novel coming out May 7th!

Not only is With the Fire on High a gorgeous story about resilience, talent, and pride, it also has a completely STUNNING cover! Luckily, we got the inside scoop from Erin Fitzsimmons, one of Harper’s *epic* designers, about how they created this utter masterpiece with artist Erick Davila. Scroll down to take a look!


With the Fire on High



Erin: We knew from the start of this cover design process that we wanted to feature Emoni on the cover, in a strong and beautiful portrait style. Emoni is a very different character from Xiomara in The Poet X so we knew we needed a different art style, and we narrowed in on Erick Davila’s work very quickly.

I had wanted to work with him for years! His portraits are so stunning and vibrant, much like our character Emoni. I also loved that he could incorporate floral and food ingredients into the composition, as cooking and food are such a big part of the story of With the Fire on High.

After a few rounds of pencil sketches, we found the right balance for Emoni’s expression, styling, and features, as well as the overall composition:

We realized that we preferred a simpler composition, and we were missing the strong, defiant eye contact from an earlier sketch. With our character and composition solidified, we moved to color palette. We looked at a variety of beautiful color palettes:

We thought the deep reddish purple was the most unusual, but also complimented Emoni’s skin and hair, as well as the fruit and herb ingredients:

One last element we wanted to include from the beginning was a pre-printed case. We went with a warm, fiery color palette for the case cover, so it would pop out nicely under the jacket:

The finished copies are 🔥🔥🔥!

You can check out Erick’s work at and follow him on Instagram @erickdvila.

Preorder a copy of With the Fire on High now!

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