I am a BIG Kate Atkinson fan; for the last few years she has been hovering in position one or two of my favourite writers ever. I’ve just started reading When Will There Be Good News?. (Fantastic first chapter, by the way) I can’t help but notice Ms Atkinson’s picture in this book.
I’ve been following her book photos and this one I find quite disturbing. I’ll admit I do appreciate the fact that she changes her picture to reflect her new adjusted status in the world of books as each book comes out, and to reflect the passage of time, unlike authors like Bill Bryson, for example, who has used the exact same picture forever. We know you don’t look like that anymore, Bill, so who are you trying to fool? BUT this photograph of Ms Atkinson standing in a doorway in a khaki coat is unsettling.
In her first book, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, (I can’t show you that picture because I loaned the book to someone and they did the unforgivable- they never returned it. I know, it sickens me too) she obviously used a picture taken by a friend, no money for a professional photographer just yet. It was endearing, her hair windswept, on a hike somewhere perhaps.
For Human Croquet and Emotionally Wired she took the glamorous model angle, showing the world a more professional side, likely guided by the prestigious Whitbread First Novel Award she had in the bag, and the good sales of her books. She was obviously enjoying her success.
We see the emergence of the coat theme in Case Histories. In this instance though, it is a soft, almost jersey looking, jacket that she clutches around her body, her face blank, and, though some would disagree, I see the edge of a smirk about a minute away from the moment captured in the picture. I like this photo, to me it says I’m a writer BUT I’m not your property I’m going to keep a few of my secrets.
And then we have the newest picture. Why the weary look over your shoulder, Kate? Have we readers become the burden that you must carry? And the coat? What does it mean? I think the coat is meant to tell us she has had enough and is on her way out. Why else stand in a doorway in that coat? That is nothing if it is not a coat meant for walking. The eyes look sad and the mouth turns downward. I’m very concerned about this photo. I’m concerned as a reader, but also as a writer. Is this what success brings- sad, pleading eyes in a trench coat made for walking?
Do you think I’m reading too much into this???