I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. I think it was back in May 2021 when my editor, Kathy Pories, introduced me to the Creative Director of Algonquin Books, Christopher Moisan. We began discussions about who to approach for the cover art. Christopher found an amazing artist in El Paso, Texas and sent us some examples of her work. Both Kathy and I were floored. We passed the images along to my agent, Allie Levick, of Writers House, and she too instantly became enamored by her work. It’s my great pleasure to introduce you to: Christin Apodaca.
Like Christopher, we were all impressed with the three dimensional quality of her work. There was something captivating with the surrealist style and her black and white images had a way of lifting off the surface. Many of her drawings beckoned to an almost Salvador Dali dynamic, where the unraveling of faces seemed to speak to greater issues in humanity.
Once Christopher gave us the word that he was going to approach her for the cover of CALLING FOR A BLANKET DANCE, we sat patiently biting our nails and wondering how she would respond. She was sent early chapters of the novel. I couldn’t help but wonder: will the novel resonate with her?
A few weeks passed and we were all delighted when she agreed to work with us. I perused through her website and her Instagram and thought about how she would capture the novel. What elements would stand out? How will she see the characters? Where will the cultural elements come into play? With Christopher Moisan’s guidance, Christin sent us her preliminary sketch.
And it was perfect!
When you discover Apodaca’s work, you’re first impressed with how she captures faces and how she can make you think about the images’ internal life. But it’s a drawing, one side of your mind says. But it’s so alive, says the other. There is such a depth that at once you feel like the image is in pain or joyous, like the drawing is a person working through hardships and living out triumphs. You know her, and maybe you’ve felt her pain, experienced her happiness, and had once lived life like an Apodaca drawing.
All the qualities I had hoped for came out in the image she created for the debut novel. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I spent a weekend in secret, holding onto the sketch like it was a personal joy. Something I knew about that no one else did. Sometimes it feels good to have a private moment with something so powerful, like remembering the magic of childhood–when it was okay to live in dreamlike spaces.
Christin is well respected in her El Paso, Texas community. She has spectacular murals at various locations around the city and holds gallery showings to help her community carry a sense of pride. When I first started the discussions with Kathy and Christopher, I made it clear that I needed to work with an artist who understood the intertribal and multicultural dynamics at play in my novel.
Because the novel plays with the intersections among Kiowa, Cherokee, and Latinx peoples and communities, I was immediately drawn to Apodaca’s Mex-Indigenous roots. With more and more Indigenous peoples crossing the U.S./Mexico border every year, we need artists of all varieties to give voice to the voiceless. My novel not only works to highlight the intertribal dynamics of life in Oklahoma, but it also brings a spotlight to the transnational Indigenous identity of North America, aka Turtle Island. Christin’s art breaks down imaginary borders, and simultaneously builds bridges of hope.
The Creative Director of Algonquin Books, Christopher Moisan, took Christin’s image and started to add color and create background designs. He sent Allie and I a few prototypes and played around with the color scheme and design. He blended the colors on the Gourd Dance sash well, giving enough contrast to effectively capture Christin’s line work in the blue and red. The dollar bill stood out more than ever with the deep green. He blended the rich copper brown of the face’s skin tone at my request. I was grateful for his flexibility and his wisdom in working with artists. Soon he displayed the fullness of his talent and sent Allie and I the final draft of the cover. It was amazing.
I’m not only excited to share with you an amazing artist, Christin Apodaca, but I’m also humbled to have worked with such a masterful Creative Director, Christopher Moisan. I’m grateful to Michael McKenzie for connecting us all with Marisa Siegel at The Rumpus for an exclusive cover reveal. So be one of the first to see the cover of my debut novel, CALLING FOR A BLANKET DANCE, by following this link: http://www.therumpus.net/2021/08/rumpus-exclusive-cover-reveal-for-calling-for-a-blanket-dance/