I don’t know about you, but I have a habit of picturing people I haven’t met, whether I know them by phone or just by email.
Even with the clue of their speaking voice, I am almost always wrong. For example, before I met my agent in person, I imagined, from her chipper speaking voice, that she was a tall, preppy blonde. In fact, she is a petite, wholesomely sexy brunette and not at all preppy.
Now that I am on myspace and conversing online with authors whose voices I haven’t heard, I find myself imagining these people as well, but in a whole new way. I think of them as their book covers. I realize I may be alone in this, and also, I myself would probably prefer not to be imagined as the cover of my current book. I was never and am not now a softly-focused happy young girl. There’s no logical explanation for this mental phenomenon, I’m just saying it’s what I do. I get an email that says, Hey Betsy, blah blah blah, I picture the writer wherever they live, a book cover walking around their house, composing email, doing readings, teaching classes, speaking Chinese. I do it a little bit with their photos as well, which is perhaps slightly more accurate, but for example, I imagine Etgar Keret is perpetually carrying his baby over his shoulder. So you can imagine my surprise when last night I received my copy of Roy Kesey’s Nothing in the World, which features a lovely painting of a pear on the cover, and turned the book over to discover a small photo in the bottom left corner, which I take it is some sort of representation of the actual Roy Kesey, but which I find to be rather disconcerting. To me, Roy Kesey is now and will always be a lovely green pear.