With only five weeks until publication of my novel on 13 June I am very excited to unveil the beautiful cover today. It’s been fun to hear early readers guess how it was going to look but I bet nobody expected this! It’s nothing like I imagined and yet it conveys the feel of the novel brilliantly. Like everyone involved, I’m thrilled with it and we’d all love to hear what it says to you!
Despite the old cliché, book covers (and titles) are extremely important. I’m very influenced by them whether browsing in a book shop or online. When you regularly scroll through hundreds of thumbnails on NetGalley (a site where professional reviewers & co. can request digital advance copies) as I do, it’s the standout covers that make you want to find out more about the story. Mine will be up there very soon, hopefully doing just that!
My publishers at Canelo have shown incredible commitment to getting the cover for Paris Mon Amour right. I really appreciated being given a say, especially as it’s a visual book, set in the Paris art world. The insight into the complexities of the design process has been fascinating. It’s a tall order; I’d never thought about just how much a cover has to communicate, perhaps because the best often appear deceptively simple. Many thanks to Iain Millar at Canelo for coming up with the inspired idea of the lilies – significant in the story – and to talented designer Dan Mogford, who struck gold within hours of finishing the book. His portfolio is full of striking covers for authors including Bill Bryson, Deborah Levy and Rachel Cusk, so I’m in great company. The image is from the Fragmented Flora series by Melbourne-based photographer Anna Thomas, who takes plant specimens, freezes them in liquid nitrogen before smashing them up. That combination of beauty, passion and damage feels tailor-made for my book (even though it wasn’t)!
If the cover has aroused your curiosity and 13 June seems like a long wait, here’s the first page of Alexandra’s story. I hope you enjoy it.
After and Before
The first time I caused terrible harm to those I love it was an accident. The second is the reason I’m here.
Not just here in this place with the paint box aquamarine sky, the gulls wheeling overhead, the warm salt air on my skin. I mean here, right now, on my way to our first session. I say ‘first’, but it’s hard to imagine lasting one, let alone many. It’s good that you’re up on the hill, near the fine art museum with these dusty exotic gardens. I can come here afterward to pull myself together.
And before. This is going to hurt.
I pause in the gardens to re-apply my lipstick, checking in my compact mirror, not that I need to. I learned the outline of my mouth from his finger mapping it, just like every other inch of me. Eyes closed, I can trick myself into believing he is still with me, up against me; I see his smile, the way he used to look at me. I remember the heat of my hands on his body, him in mine. What began as everything would be almost the least of it, in the end. And when I reach the end, as I always will, it’s to find he’s left me all over again.
I smooth my hair and my dress in one sweep, fingertips skimming my breasts as the heels of my hands trace my new shape. A man catches my eye and smiles. Younger than me. Handsome. I turn away.
Continuing up the street, I look for the building you described with the mosaic over the entrance. You sounded kind when I called, as if you understood when I said I needed to talk to someone and really didn’t want to at all. I’m not exactly at my best right now but I guess you’re used to that. For now it’s this or nothing. And nothing really isn’t working.
You said that your room has a view of the bay and on warm days you leave the balcony door open. The ocean has always been part of this story even when it was miles away. There is no shutting it out, not ever.
Later this week my guest will be Louisa Treger, author of The Lodger, on her journey From Violinist to Writer.