Sunday, September 8, 2019

THE BIG REVEAL: Uncovering the cover of Hezada! I Miss You

One of my favorite parts of the lead-up to a book's publication is the cover reveal. Luckily, all of my books have covers that I love and that seem to complement the content. I gasped the first time I saw LK James's cover for Hezada! I Miss You. 

It was early summer when it appeared on my phone, and I went around the whole day finding people I loved and asking if they'd like to see the cover, and then, without waiting for their answer, I'd do the big reveal.
Are you ready? I'd say.
Are you ready?
Are you sure?
And then, I'd turn over my phone.

They'd move the phone this way and that until they could see with the light.
And then.
Then, friend, they'd gasp. With their mouths, their hands, their whole faces.
I'd grin with them. I'd clasp my hands, lean forward, with the child inside me who knows she has the perfect object to bring to show and tell.
Isn't it perfect? I'd say.
It is. Yes.
I love it, I'd say because you can prolong the moment of appreciation, and I always try when I can.

Then I'd take back the phone, returning the cover to hiding, and swear them to secrecy regarding what they'd seen.
Hundreds of people I showed that day.

No, but that's how many I wanted to show. That's how many I think should see it. Imagine the collective gasp. Imagine all of us looking at the same picture and thinking, Yes. Yes, that's right.

Well, today, friends, we can do that. I'm not sure of when you'll find this, of your time zone, of how to time your gasp to another's, but we will have to do our best.

Are you ready?

Are you ready?

Are you sure?

Cover of Hezada! I Miss You, illustration by LK James


Do you see that elephant? Do you know how my father loved elephants? He would bring home ceramic and glass elephants in the white boxes from downtown, from the Bird's Nest jewelry and gift store. My kindergarten teacher's husband owned the store, and every gift to my mother from my father came from there.

And the elephant's expression. Do you want to cup the elephant's face in your hands and press your forehead to its forehead? I do. Do you know that feeling? That's the feeling of the novel. That's what I felt, deeply, when writing it. So deep it ached. So deep the ache hurt and many days I dreaded opening the manuscript to work on it.

Is there an elephant in the novel? Oh, yes. Yes. And that feeling, too, is there.

And what about the flower in the elephant's trunk? Do you know what that is? It's called several different names, which I didn't know until the internet, but in the Midwest, on my road, in my childhood, my mother called it Queen Anne's lace; it grows along the road my mother pushed my stroller up, then I toddled, walked, bicycled, then ran from. Had I never taken any classes on the body, I'd imagine my veins patterned like Queen Anne's Lace.

What about the frame? Its blend of Art Deco and circus poster. Its whimsy elegance. I love it. Imagine how carefully our artist drew it. Imagine her bent over her desk. Imagine. 

And the colors! The red and the blue! The banner, the script, the placement of A Novel and Erin Pringle. 

Do you love it? 
What else do you love about it? 
Will you love it with me? 
If you don't love it, let me love it until you love it, too, so we can love, together.

Thank you, LK James. 
Thank you, Awst.
Thank you, friend, for looking.

About Hezada! I Miss You
The last Midwestern travelling circus is due to arrive in a rural village it has visited for a century of summers. Like the village, the circus is on its last leg. It’s down to one elephant and a handful of acrobats. The circus boss’s sweetheart is dying. The former starring act is recovering from cancer. The assistant, Frank, plans to retire after this show. Meanwhile, twins Heza and Abe wander the hot fields and roads, waiting for the circus or anything better. Hezada! I Miss You is a novel that explores tradition, love, and suicide—set under the fading tents of small-town America and the circus.

View more of LK James's illustrations here:
Learn more about Awst Press here: