Karen Brichoux

Current and Upcoming Books

Available Now
"Draws the reader into the story and never lets go." --RT Bookclub
"Brichoux reminds the reader how powerfully the landscape of 'home' can define a person." -- High Country News
Previously Released
"An exceptional novel." --Melissa Senate, author of The Solomon Sisters Wise Up
"A coup. Warm, smart, and original." --Kirkus Reviews


Folding (Or the Cover from Hell)

October 31, 2003

November 2003 Newsletter Contents:
Article: "Folding (Or the Cover from Hell"
What I'm Reading

Not much, actually. I'm working hard on another book, so that's occupying most of my time. However, if you want to chat, I can often be found on the NALauthors.com boards! (http://nalauthors.com/forums/)

Article: Folding (Or the Cover from Hell)

October was the month from hell. Major vehicle breakdowns mixed with sick pets mixed with all kinds of confusion....If it weren't for autumn--glorious, beautiful, colorful autumn--I'd be throwing in the towel and moving to some desolate place where I could spend my days watching the shadows crawl across the ground.

The cover for _Separation Anxiety_ arrived on my editor's desk around the first of the month, and she put a copy in the mail for me. The envelope got caught on some brown-truck company belt somewhere in Indiana or Utah or Los Angeles, so the jpg of the cover arrived before the photocopy. I was in the middle of hitching a trailer to the car to retrieve a broken-down motorcycle when the email came in. I clicked on the attachment...and a giant safe landed on my head. Just like in the cartoons.

Last summer, I had a reader ask me if I drew the cover for _Coffee and Kung Fu_. No, I didn't. (A good thing, since my expertise in drawing is limited to those little icons you find on public restroom doors....) An author in my position--that is, not Stephen King--is lucky to get what is called "cover consultation." Cover consultation means that the author and the editor pool a few ideas, then someone else makes a cover that has nothing to do with those ideas. If the publisher likes the cover, that is the cover which will appear on the author's book. End of story.

Back to the safe on my head.

I'm not sure how to describe the crushed feeling an author experiences when she's told "everyone *loves*" a cover which has nothing in common with the words the author wrote. It took me months to write _Separation Anxiety_. For weeks before I started writing, Wichita Gray kept knocking around in my head, insisting she had something important to say about human beings. Her story--present and past--is the story of mistakes made and mistakes almost made. Mistakes that have the ability to taint the lives of everyone involved.

My cover has a man (dubbed "Mr. Bulge" in our house) wearing skin-tight jeans and a negligent James-Dean attitude in one corner. From the other corner, a woman is giving him the flirty eye.

My cover would be a dream come true. If I wrote romantic comedy.

I don't.

I called my editor and moaned. But when the publisher likes the cover, there isn't a lot an author (or an editor) can do. Except break the contract, pay back all the advance plus the agent's commission, and embroil herself in legal difficulties right and left. Did I consider that? You betcha. Unfortunately, the advance is spent and there's no getting it back, and I don't have a rich uncle to borrow from or a lawyer in the family.

So, I had to fold this time. I was holding a losing hand. Sometimes that happens. But--as a friend of mine is known to say during card games (often when he's winning and at his most irritating!): "Every hand's a winner and every hand's a loser."

So, stay tuned!

What I'm Reading:

_Step-Ball-Change_ by Jeanne Ray (I'm a little late picking this one up--everyone else seems to have read it already. It's a fun book.)

_Lisa Maria's Guide for the Perplexed_ by Susan Hubbard (This book will be released by Red Dress Ink in June 2004. I got my hands on an advance copy, and it is delightfully cynical and witty. Keep an eye out for it.)

_Cider with Rosie_ by Laurie Lee (A wonderful classic about growing up in the Cotswolds in the time around World War I. Written by a man who is in love with living.)

_Cadbury's Coffin_ by Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout (A young adult novel that should be read by adults, too!)

_Jake_ by Alfred Slote (I'm not a big fan of baseball (or any sport, for that matter), but this is a fun book about growing up.)

_Chinese Poetry_ Wai-Lim Yip, editor & translator (The masters of poetry. What more is there to say?)

Until next month!