I am home from work for a month with a broken foot. I had bunion surgery and now have a bionic foot, complete with plates and a multitude of screws in my bones. So, to turn lemons into lemonade, this respite from teaching and lesson plans has turned into the time I’ve been working toward for four years. Drumroll please…My novel, The Unexpected Daughter, is in the self-publication production process. Within weeks, the characters I have given birth to on the virtual page and fleshed out with words that existed only on the computer screen, will be in my hand, in paper flesh. I am ecstatic.
This morning, I will meet with my editor and writing mentor, Wayne South Smith, and a cover artist to flesh out the cover art. I am over the top with excitement, because I know how key a cover is to enticing readers, but giving a visual face to my novel is causing a little anxiety to creep across my skin. For years, the main characters, Jenny, Roshan, and Esha have been mine and mine alone. Their faces formed in my mind as their lives took shape and grew up into full-grown people – who are mine. I feel possessive. I feel protective. And, to my surprise, I feel scared to unleash them into reality.
In the past week, Wayne and I have traded ideas of how to visually entice readers to read my family saga. We agreed that we must give faces to the women of the novel, and I have Googled images of background colors, clothing styles, hairstyles, and facial expressions. The colors and facial expressions must embody the Indian and southern cultures, the intense anger and jealously, as well as the tenderness and love that flow throughout Jenny, Roshan, and Esha’s lives. I had no idea before this process how difficult it would be to capture the essence of the story in one cover image. Just as writing a one-page synopsis of a novel can be agonizing, so can envisioning the visual artistry that must do justice to the literary world underneath the cover.
In a few minutes, I will strap on my foot brace and venture from my suburb into the city of Atlanta for this meeting of the creative minds, and will finally give permission for my book to enter the world that is occupied by other human beings. My characters, my novel, will be sketched out before my eyes – before the eyes of others – and I will let it happen. The saying “If you love someone, set them free,” rings true for me today.
Today, The Unexpected Daughter gets a face. And it’s face, it’s essence, will belong to everyone who sees it.