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My Book Cover and Body Image

October 23, 2012

Last week, my editor sent me the cover for my novel, Viral Nation. I can’t share it yet. You’ll be the first to know when I can!

I’m not a visual thinker. I tried, but I wasn’t able to form a picture in my head of what my cover might look like, I couldn’t. So, when I got the email and opened the download, it was like someone had reached into my head, taken the words that make up my story, and turned it into this beautiful, perfect picture.

I’ll never forget that moment, not ever.

Viral Nation is a little bit of a love letter to Northern Nevada, and I was particularly happy to see that the art department had worked the Reno skyline into the cover.

The cover also features one of the main characters of the story, a 16-year-old girl named Clover, and her service bulldog, Mango. Seeing a visual representation of Clover was a little like the moments when my babies became people separate from me. My first thought was, “Wow, did I really write her so small in stature?” And I did. Clover doesn’t have enough to eat. She never has. Viral Nation has an undercurrent of what struggling to feed yourself and the people you love looks like.

We live in a culture where people congratulate themselves publicly, on sites like Facebook lots of the time, for denying their hunger. We live in a culture where the body diversity that comes from living in a time and place where food is abundant and everyone has enough, is demonized. Even the suggestion that it’s okay to feel comfortable in your skin, if your skin covers a big body, is often a point of contention.

I watched a movie last night called Spanglish with Adam Sandler and Tea Leoni. They had a daughter and Tea Leoni’s character is nearly desperate for the girl (maybe 12 or 13) to fit her beauty standard. She buys her daughter clothes, only in a size too small, as inspiration for weight loss. When her plan backfires, she asks her husband, “What am I supposed to do, support her being overweight?”

We live in a culture where even having access to clothes that fit is a minefield. Someday I’ll write a book about body image. Viral Nation is about other things, but it does speak to how important having enough to eat is.

I can’t wait to share the cover with you guys. My editor says it’ll be after the holidays.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. kate217 permalink
    October 23, 2012 11:23 am

    Can’t wait to read the book!

  2. vesta44 permalink
    October 23, 2012 11:35 am

    Congratulations! Is your book going to be available for Kindle? I just don’t have room for more physical books, but I have plenty of room on my Kindle/computer for ebooks (I gave a couple thousand books to my son when I got married, and I’ve managed, somehow, to collect another thousand or so books in the six years since then).

  3. Lauren C. permalink
    October 23, 2012 1:16 pm

    Look forward to reading it & congratulations!

  4. Happy Spider permalink
    October 24, 2012 6:27 am

    This sounds great. I like it when writers put particular locations in their novels.

    I used to read a fantasy author who set his series in imaginary locations. A few years ago he broke with this rule by setting a series in New Orleans. I thought these were some of his best books because the setting had so much personality. It had this compelling quality you get in books when the author is drawing from his own experiences. Although the main thing wasn’t exactly that the location was compelling but that it seemed as if the author really loved it and was giving out details that were the result of long observation. After I read the book I saw in the author’s bio that he had lived in New Orleans for many years and had fallen in love with the city, and I thought, yup, that is certainly no surprise.

    Anyway, now I am looking forward to reading about Northern Nevada.

  5. October 30, 2012 10:11 pm

    I hate to brag, but I’ve actually seen the new cover and I know we’re not supposed to do this, but I’m going to go ahead and judge this book by its cover. It’s fucking amazing. I can’t wait to read it.


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