My debut novel, which will be released to the world in July of this year—seven months from now—has a cover. A real one. Which I happen to love and whose image I open onto my computer screen several times a day just to gaze at it. The existence of this picture stirs up so many emotions in me: satisfaction, disbelief, scream-it-from-the-hilltops joy. But also, as with any big life milestone, there’s a sense of wistfulness, a deep longing to share with my beloved parents.
Here is the cover of Embers on the Wind, to be released by Little A Books on July 5, 2022. Artwork by Micaela Alcaino.
My mother, an avid reader and educator, died in 2018. I am fortunate that she was alive for part of the time I was working on the book, and even read an early version of the short story which grew into the finished work.
But Dad died back in 1995, before I even owned anything resembling a laptop. I was writing long hand and then typing things up on his old Corona (prior to the word’s current connotation). He read and critiqued things I wrote, predicting that I would one day “blow the literary world away.” Dad always regarded my endeavors with a blustery confidence he denied his own work.
My father was a brilliant writer and storyteller. An astute interlocutor of history and politics, of race and culture, art, literature, and music. But luck and time were often against him. A visual artist who was legally blind. A screen writer whose Hollywood contacts lagged behind his skill and ambitions.
But my father’s name, Mel Williamson, lives on in the flaps and copyright pages of countless books, including volumes by Jimmy Breslin, Nadine Gordimer, Saul Bellow, Grace Paley, and other 20th century Giants.
My father was the chief art director at Viking Press, both before and after it was “Viking Penguin,” long before it was an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Dad designed book covers. It was what he did for most of my childhood. And therefore, it is to him that I dedicate this announcement, with his memory that I celebrate this moment.