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I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about why I write.
These questions raise themselves when you’re about to share new work with the world. In the last few weeks, proof copies of my latest book have been going out to my first readers. It’s terrifying. Not for the first time, I wonder why I’ve thrown everything I have at this career, rather than something more sensible and less exposing. A couple of years ago, someone went to the effort of direct messaging me on Twitter to suggest I might like to give up writing and become a librarian, because ‘it’s a good job for an autistic person’ and I ‘seem to like books quite a lot’. Maybe I shouldn’t have blocked them after all.
Strangely, though, I don’t write because I love books. I actually think I started liking books because I loved writing so much. No, the urge to write comes from somewhere else, a desire to make sense of the world around me, to explore it, and research it, and chew it over, and understand it. I never quite know what I think about anything until I’ve written a book about it. I realise that other people form opinions through far less laborious processes, but this, apparently, is the only way I know how.
My books always have their feet in uncertainty. They don’t come from a desire to hand down wisdom, but instead to acquire it. I never felt this more keenly than when I was writing my new book, Enchantment. I was reeling from so many aftermaths: not just the pandemic, but the slew of soul-shaking events that had happened before it, the social and political fracturing that we were living through. My brain was so foggy that I felt as though I was grinding to a halt, all my thoughts coalescing into something resembling tar. I was tired, and sick, and angry, and lost. I asked myself: what on earth do we do now?
Enchantment is a book about finding sanctuary in this post-everything world. It’s an exploration of the ways we can re-engage with our fascination and wonder, how we can learn to perceive the infinite in small, mundane things, and how we can reclaim the right to make meaning, even when we’re not sure what we believe. I wanted to show how we can renew a connection with the land beneath our feet and the air around us, one that is sustaining, comforting and even magical - how we can become enchanted again.
Enchantment will be coming to a bookshop near you in March 2023. Today, I’m very, very (very very very) excited to share the beautiful US cover with you. Drumroll, please…
Isn’t it just completely gorgeous? I got goosebumps when I first saw it. And then I cried a bit, but ssssh, don’t tell anyone. We’ll keep that between ourselves.
It’s designed by Riverhead’s Associate Director of Art, Lauren Peters-Collaer, who expresses the themes of the book so beautifully when she describes her design choices:
“Reading Enchantment was an incredible gift and a truly revelatory experience. I was deeply inspired by Katherine’s expressions of how ritual, observation, and connection can reveal the magic around us, and the idea that we are bound together with each other and the natural world in profound ways that we can only perceive through meaningful attention. With this cover, I wanted to create something that spoke to this while also feeling like a companion to Wintering. In the way that the snow-becoming-leaf imagery on the cover of Wintering was inspired by the alchemy that the act of wintering affords us, the stars-becoming-feather imagery on this cover hopes to nod to the magic and greater meaning that is revealed to us when we reawaken awe and connect with our surroundings.”
I love the fact that the two books are sisters, and I hope to one day see them both on a shelf somewhere, side by side.
If you can’t wait to read it - well first, thank you, and second, would you consider pre-ordering? I know it seems weird when authors ask this, but in truth it helps enormously because it alerts booksellers that readers are interested, and makes Enchantment far more likely to hit the charts next March. Plus, you’ll get your copy as soon as it’s released. It’s like sending your future self a lovely treat.
If you’re in the US or Canada, you can pre-order here, or talk to your local bookseller.
UK readers - fear not! The Faber cover is coming in August - I get to enjoy two dramatic reveals! In the meantime, you can already pre-order on Amazon, but please ask your local book store if you have one. More ethical alternatives to follow!
I’ll just leave you with a couple of quotes from authors you won’t have heard of, no big deal.
“I love Katherine May’s new book, Enchantment.…It’s a beautiful offering of light, truth and charm in these strange, dark times.”
– New York Times bestselling author Anne Lamott
“Katherine May gave so many of us language and vision for the long communal ‘wintering’ of the last years. Welcome this beautiful meditation for the time we’ve now entered. I cannot imagine a more gracious companion. This book is a gift.”
– New York Times bestselling author Krista Tippett
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Live dates & workshops
N.B. These are likely to be my only US dates this year, so please come if you can.
Literary Festival: Liverpool, UK, 30th September, 7pm - 8pm. I’ll be appearing via Zoom at the Gravity Festival, in conversation with Prof. Philip Davis and Melissa Chapple. Tickets here.
You may have noticed that there’s no ‘For your stray attention…’ list here this week. That’s because I thought it deserved a newsletter of its own! From Sunday, you’ll get a fortnightly bonus newsletter with a few recommendations for diverting things to read and listen to. See you there!
All good wishes,
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