Thursday, June 16, 2011

My New Book Cover

A couple months ago, my publisher asked me if I'd had any dreams or fantasies about how the cover of my book would appear.  I racked my brain ... but nothing came to me.  Or nothing terribly original, that is.  All I could see in my head was a stack of books (which seems obvious enough, since my book is a literary memoir about finding myself through reading), juxtaposed with a martini glass (since during the tumultuous period I write about I was consuming quite a bit of Grey Goose, indeed).

I guess this is why I'm not a graphic designer.

A big thank you to Natalia, my publisher's graphic designer, who read my book and came up with this cover.  I liked it as soon as Sandra showed it to me; it seems to capture the evocative, melancholy, searching-for-happiness mood of my book perfectly.  The sepia photo is meant to represent my grandparents, whose turbulent romance casts light on my own journey of self-discovery. 

After deciding upon the cover, Sandra and I spent a lovely, somewhat anxiety-ridden morning, drinking coffee and bouncing around ideas about the blurb on the back of the cover.  After a few more rounds of revision, which involved chopping a couple hundred glorious words (I'm definitely way too subtle and verbose to ever make my living writing promotional material), this is what we were left with - my book in a nutshell:

"Leslie Shimotakahara is a young, disenchanted English professor struggling to revive her childhood love of reading.  Her father Jack, recently retired from a high-powered corporate job, finally has time to take up reading books for pleasure.  The Reading List tells the story of Leslie’s return home to Toronto to rethink her life and decide what to do next.  At the same time, she bonds with her father over discussions about the lives, loves and works of the novelists on their shared reading list – Wharton, Joyce, Woolf and Atwood, to name a few.  But when their conversations about literature unearth some heartbreaking, deeply buried family secrets surrounding Jack’s own childhood – growing up Japanese-Canadian in the aftermath of World War II – Leslie’s world is changed forever.  Could discovering the truth about her father’s past hold the key to her finally being happy in love, life and career? 

As captivating as The Jane Austen Book Club, and as inspiring as The Film Club, The Reading List reveals how literature can sometimes help us expose our past, understand our loved ones and point us toward our future."

So there you have it.  Having the cover and back blurb in place definitely makes my book feel more real.  Until this point, I suppose there's still been something kind of abstract or dreamy about the concept of my first book.  But now, the book's become a material object and I'm filled with excitement and anticipation.  At the same time, another form of anxiety sets in.... No one in my family has read my book yet.  I wonder what they will think when my book is published in September?


Mimi said...

I like the cover of your memoir with its misty, intriguing atmosphere! Where will your new book be sold?

Leslie Shimotakahara said...

Thanks so much! In September, my book will be available in bookstores in Canada, and it should also be available internationally on Amazon. Hopefully, in the future, it will also make its way into bookstores elsewhere (fingers crossed!)


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About Me

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Toronto, ON, Canada
Leslie Shimotakahara is a writer and recovering academic, who wanted to be simply a writer from before the time she could read. Hard-pressed to answer her parents’ question of how she would support herself as a writer, Leslie got drawn into the labyrinthine study of literature, completing her B.A. in Honours English from McGill in 2000, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Modern American Literature from Brown in 2006. After graduation, she taught English at St. Francis Xavier University for two years. Leslie woke up one morning and realized that she’d had enough of the Ivory Tower. The fact that she wasn’t doing what she wanted to do with her life loomed over her, and the realization was startling. It was time to stop studying and passively observing life and do something real instead. She needed to discover herself and tell her own story. This blog and the book she has written under the same title (Variety Crossing Press, spring 2012) are her foray. Leslie's writing has been published in WRITE, TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, and GENRE.