When Warner asked me to write a personal essay about Dating Amy, I jumped at the chance to share my thoughts on the most significant part of the writing a book: the cover. Ever since I was a little girl I've dreamed of walking into a bookstore and seeing my work displayed. There it would be in the front window or the front tables, my own version of me... with a slimmer waist and much better hair.
A book is a collaborative effort and of course my publisher and I went through several drafts. I was flexible when I needed to be, but held fast to what I knew in my heart was right: I did not want it to be pink or have a stick-figure drawing of a woman on it. I'll never forget the lively dialog we had about the "dimples or no dimples" issue. My, how we laughed! That could be the subject of its own essay.
We agreed on a pulp fiction look to go with the True Confessions in the subtitle. The art department thought that since the book is a memoir it made sense to have me drawn into the cover. They asked me to pose on my bed with a laptop. That was when the gritty, unglamorous part of the work began: I was alone with just my ideas and a digital camera with a timer. They were happy with my first submission, but they also wanted a close-up of my face in the same pose, just with better lighting. I changed the setting from my bedroom to my living room to get the right tone. I feel it was not just the photo but the work as a whole that was better developed that day.
I strove to make the cover resonate on several levels. Da Vinci Code-like mysteries are contained if you look closely. First, who is that lone man in the background? It's no one I know. Is it some poor schmuck from sales who may have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time and told to sit still although he knew not why? Second, what brand of laptop is that? It looks like a Mac at first but upon more rigorous inspection one can see that the logo is not an apple but is instead a heart. Which, along with the title, ties in with the whole dating theme! So many levels.
My biggest influences as a writer have been the covers of the works of Fitzgerald, especially my favorite novel The Beautiful and Damned (a drawing of the Plaza); Ray Bradbury (various) and Stephen King, especially Pet Sematary, The Shining and a surprisingly touching and intimate story he did called The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (a snarling cat back from the dead, scary black letting on yellow background and a girl, respectively). It was the underrated Shameless Honeymoon: The Scandalous Story of a Thrill-Mad Playgirl that most influenced my choices for this book, however: the cartoon version of me is wearing the exact same black slip as she is.
Looking at my first book, Dating Amy -- the impossibly great measurements and not a split end in sight -- I think you'll agree that with hard work, dedication and the right art department, a writer's dreams really can come true.