My New Face

As some of you may already know, The Birth House has been chosen as the sole title for Knopf Canada’s 2006 New Faces of Fiction. This year marks the 10th anniverary of the New Faces of Fiction, a program started by Louise Dennys…her response to the oft-repeated industry comment
“First fiction doesn’t sell . . . .”

A decade later and 30 authors have gotten their foot in the literary door (and have been enthusiastically embraced by readers) because the editors at Knopf Canada were willing to devote their time and attention to first fiction. (Ann-Marie MacDonald, Yann Martel, Gail Anderson-Dargatz and Dionne Brand were in the first group!) It is difficult for me to even begin to describe how honoured I feel to be a part of the NFoF, especially in the 10th anniversary year.

Back in October I shared a personal journal entry with friends and family via my monthly newsletter, Incidentally. At the time, it felt like a very intimate revelation and I chose not to post it on the blog. Now that the launch of The Birth House is almost here, requests for interviews are starting to roll in, my heart is a-twitter with anticipation (mixed with bouts of nervousness), and my debut into the world of all things literary is inevitable. It’s time to share some of myself with the rest of the world. Here is the email that went out in October of 2005.

Hi all,
This time of year is always one of deep reflection for
me. Autumn colours are brilliant and wild, and the
winds bring thoughts of change.

I thought I’d share a little bit of what’s been on my

October 13, 1998 – While driving to my job as a music
teacher at the Chicago Waldorf School, I was
blindsided by a car that was coming out of a side
street. I was pretty banged up, most especially my
head…my face was black, blue, purple, red, my right
eye – cut up and swollen shut. I had to miss several
weeks of work. I was a mess. When my downstairs
neighbour came to see me at the hospital, he actually
turned away from me several times because he said it
hurt to look at me…and he was a pretty tough guy, a
dispatcher for an ambulance service who had grown up
on the South side. When my mom and dad saw me, they
cried. When my best friend from university came to
help out, she could hardly hold the camera still to
take pictures for my insurance company. Not pretty.

Seven years later…

October 13, 2005 – The courrier truck delivered a box
from Knopf/Random House Canada this morning – the
galleys of my novel. Galleys (or advanced reader
copies) are paperback proofs of the book that are sent
to booksellers, media contacts and reviewers who need
to have an early look at the book before it’s in
finished hardcover form. As I started to open the box
I could see part of my face. I assumed I must be
seeing the back of the book. When I wrestled the box
completely open I discovered (much to my surprise)
that my face is on the cover of the proofs along with
a banner accross the top that says: “The New Face of
Fiction, 2006 is Here!” A dozen books, a dozen smiling
Ami’s were staring back at me.

Seven years. What a difference.

And as my twelve-year-old son (who has a love for all
things scientific) reminded me, “did you know that in
the space of seven years the human body has regnerated
every single one of its cells? It’s like you’re a
whole new person.”

I guess I’m a “New Face” afterall.

New Face of Fiction web site
Visit the New Faces of Fiction site…it’s recently been revamped. You’ll find author profiles, book descriptions, author interviews, history of the program…and you can enter the NFoF contest to win a library of all the NFoF titles from the last 10 years!
Click here for the: NFoF library contest

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