My good friend, Rachel Power, commented on the gorgeous new Annick Press cover (see below) and this has given me the idea of starting off this blog tour by saying a few words about it. I was so thrilled when I received the image via email - I knew instantly that the designer had absolutely understood the book as he had summed up the main theme so brilliantly in a single image. The three Chinese characters tattooed on the back of the girl's neck are 'Wai Guo Ren' - or 'foreigner', in Chinese. In the beginning of my novel, my protagonist, Anna, believes she is fitting in so well at the Art Academy in Shanghai; she has made friends, she has impressed her fellow Art students with her painting, she convinces herself that she understands the locals so much more than her distant and aloof expatriate father does. Yet it is only later in the book that she realises that no matter how hard she tries, no matter how long she stays, she will never be accepted into this new country that is so different to anything she has ever known. She will always be branded a foreigner - even if she can't see this for herself. That vulnerability of being tattooed with this label, on the back of her neck, where everyone can see it except for her, mirrors for me so well the vulnerability of being in a foreign place and, even worse, the danger of falling in love with a total stranger.
Thanks again to the amazing cover designer at Annick, Irvin Cheung, and to the gorgeous model, Anna Warshawski.
Lastly, I have planned to post some photos throughout this week, that have inspired my novel or were taken during my time in Shanghai to add some interest. So, here is the first one (above). For any of you who have read the book, you will remember that Chenxi presents Anna with a painting on silk; a portrait of her in traditional Chinese dress. Well, this is the painting that inspired that part of the book.