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Head Shot - Jay ShearerI’m checking out the cover of Five Hundred Sirens, Jay, those striking phone or power lines that curl around the spine. What’s that all about?

We chanced on that photo pretty randomly. It was a leftover from another roll of film unrelated to the deliberate shoot for the cover. It seemed perfect the moment we saw it, though I couldn’t then say why. In part, there’s a fixation in the novel with voyeurism and surveillance, but the old school kind, absent of technology, not the government watching us or listening in on us, but each of us watching or listening in on each other. Philip Palliard, chronic voyeur, likes to watch his neighbors and guess about their lives. He listens in on them too, almost against his will, but spends precious little time considering they might be doing the same to him.

Cover - Five Hundred Sirens - Jay ShearerUnwarranted

You could hear them pretty often now, going at it in the mid-afternoon. Nearly every day, around three or three thirty—unfailingly then, as the Monarch napped—and there I’d be, a slave to it. Standing rock still under the vent, often on a chair or stepstool, listening intently, my heart gone tight, as Adam and his face-free partner in excess pounded it out across the way.

You could hear them, I swear, like the two were in the room, which never failed to amaze me. They lived across the hall, not above or below us, off to the side—a good twenty feet of hallspace dividing us—oak, plaster, beams, air—and the effect, due to the odd proximity, was less like innocent overhearing and more like we’d bugged their apartment.