Nottinghill Press is relaunching Michele Gorman's The Expat Diaries in the US, including SINGLE IN THE CITY, MISFORTUNE COOKIE, and TWELVE DAYS TO CHRISTMAS. Michele popped up on my radar two years ago - I reviewed MISFORTUNE COOKIE and TWELVE DAYS TO CHRISTMAS - my reviews are here and here. I am currently reading SINGLE IN THE CITY, the book that started it all:
Take one twenty-six-year-old American, add to a two thousand year old city, add a big dose of culture clash and stir.
To think Hannah ever believed that Americans differed from Brits mainly in pronunciation, sophistication and dentistry. That's been the understatement of a lifetime. She lands upon England's gentle shores with no job, no friends and no idea how she's supposed to build the life she's dreaming of. Armed with little more than her enthusiasm, she charges headlong into London, baffling the locals in her pursuit of a new life, new love and sense of herself.
Michele joins us today with a guest blog ...
Two nations, divided by a common book cover
I’ll never forget the day I first saw the cover for my debut novel back in early 2010. My editor emailed it to me while I was waiting to meet with my agent. I was sitting in a beautiful café on Piccadilly on a sunny February day (a rare thing in London). Excitement, tinged with nerves, fizzed when I opened that image. For months I’d wondered how Penguin would package the book that I’d spent years writing and rewriting until it was as perfect as could be. Would they take the same care over the cover? Would it reflect the story, about a young American woman named Hannah who moves to London only to find that she’s completely ill-equipped to live there?
It did, and I loved it. The cover fit perfectly with the story and perfectly with the romantic comedy genre in the UK – a pretty illustrated pastel cover. It reflected Hannah’s uncertainty, swept along and buffeted by London.
Then, about a month later, my agent took me out for dinner. “You’re not going to like what I have to tell you,” she said, pushing the cake we were sharing in my direction. “Penguin wants to change the title. To Single in the City. They feel that it has broader appeal.”
That explained why she’d been plying me with wine for two hours.
It took me a few days to get used to the change, but if Penguin, one of the biggest publishers in the world, thought Single in the City was a better title, then I’d trust them. So the book got a name change, and a new cover. And I loved it even more than the first one.
Happily, so did the British reading public. Single in the City gained tens of thousands of fans and I was officially a best-seller in the UK!
So when I decided to independently publish Single in the City in the US, I worked with the cover designer who’d done my UK cover. I wanted suitcases, and a little clue that she’s American. I loved the result (and note the tiny flag).
Misfortune Cookie followed, and then The Twelve Days to Christmas, and the series was complete.
But the thing about being an author is that there are always things you’d like to change in your books, and as I wrote 5 more after my debut, the number of things I wanted to change grew with my experience.
I couldn’t rewrite Single in the City in the UK, because Penguin owns those rights. But I could rewrite it for the US. Misfortune Cookie and The Twelve Days to Christmas also got makeovers. Together they’re rebranded as The Expat Diaries series, as I’d originally planned way back in 2010. (For those who follow me on twitter, that’s why I’ve been @expatdiaries all along)
And just as redecorating one room can make the rest of the house look tired, knowing that the text was rewritten made the covers seem out of date. So new covers were designed and they’re the ones that I’d want to snatch off the shelf, throw myself on the sofa with a glass of wine, and devour. I hope you will to!
The Expat Diaries: Single in the City launches in the US on March 25th. All the books are available globally, and here’s the Amazon.com link.
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1. If you could be Hannah for a day, what would you do in London?
2. Comments are open through Saturday, March 29, 10 pm in Baltimore.
3. I'll post the winner on Sunday, March 30.