I just spoke with one of my co-workers at Bloomsbury about the “Magic Under Glass” cover and need to apologize for my previous blog post. The main character of “Magic Under Glass” is not African American. If you read the Charlotte’s Library blog, you will see that the main character is of color, but is not African American.
Here are a few quotes taken from Charlotte’s blog:
‘I thought it might be a useful contribution to the discussion to share exactly how Nimira is described, because most of the people talking about it haven’t read the book. All the page numbers refer to the ARC. I tried to find every example, but may have missed some.
“My hair tumbled down my back, glossy black and shining in the low light.” (page 3)
“I knew how the men of Lorinar thought, what they wanted. To him, I was dark and foreign and crude.” (page 4)
“…pink does not do with skin like yours.” (pp 32-33)
“Miss Rashten thinks pink doesn’t suit my complexion,” I warned him.
“Nonsense,” he said. “There is no color more feminine than pink; no woman it does not suit, and you especially, with your golden glow.” (page 64)
“[The dress] dipped low in back and front…exposing what seemed like far too much of my brown skin.” (page 96)’
It was not my intention to attack Bloomsbury. My experiences with my co-workers there had been nothing but positive and I do consider them family. Yes, I think that the “Liar” cover incident was unfortunate and I do think that the team missed out on an opportunity to diversify. I also wish that someone from the company had responded to at least one of the blogs. Even with “Magic Under Glass”, maybe it wouldn’t have been a bad idea if one of the editors had responded to Ari’s post to clarify.
So, this is a lesson to all of us. First, let’s be more open about race and talk about some of the issues that we tend to ignore; and second, let’s READ THE BOOKS before we crucify the book makers. People *are* reading and our opinions do matter and can spark great change, but we have to remember that with great power comes great responsibility.
Do better everyone (self included).
RobinJanuary 25, 2010
Nicely said, Shadra.
Zetta ElliottJanuary 26, 2010
Well, you’re a much bigger person than your former employer b/c at least you owned up to your error immediately. I read your original post and didn’t catch that–sorry. But your main argument is still on point. I think folks did interpret the main character in different ways…and some folks from England did call her “black,” which is a different racial term than here in the US (where black means African American only; in the UK “black” encompasses Asians and Africans). You can look at the author’s sketches and her trailer and see that she meant Nimira to be a person of color; splitting hairs over her “real” or “make believe” race is NOT the point.
ShadraJanuary 26, 2010
I think Bloomsbury did admit their mistake by pulling the original cover. Also, this cover was probably designed *before* LIAR, so saying “they did it again” isn’t really fair in this case.
Yes, we still have a ways to go with diversity in media and I think that Bbury is taking a huge hit for a much larger issue that involves many and spans decades. I just feel that as a person who works in this field and who has worked on both sides of the industry I have a personal responsibilty to not slander and act irrationally when something like this happens.
In this case I had a chance to ask questions first and shed a bit more light on the behind the scenes activity of the house and I failed to do so.
Zetta ElliottJanuary 26, 2010
You certainly know this better than I, but isn’t there a big difference between the date of a cover’s design and the date of a book’s release? Colleen Mondor has a post up that you should take a look at…relating to notions of “professionalism” and folks who never speak out b/c it goes against “protocol”….
ShadraJanuary 27, 2010
Yes, of course, but if there is also a large amount of time in between the two. The books wrap months ahead of their release dates. Once a book is closed it’s on to the next ten or so. With the amount of books that they work on at a time, I am sure this one slipped by if it was wrapped before LIAR. I am not excusing either cover, but I am trying to be objective and look at all the sides of the situation.
I do know for a fact that Bloomsbury submits their covers to authors before they are sent to press, and there were many times when covers were changed because an author didn’t like the design.
Do I think that Bloomsbury editors are racist and purposefully whitewashes covers to generate sales? No. Do I think they have been extremely irresponsible and thoughtless in representing some of their characters and themselves in the process? Yes.
Colleen’s post was great.