In this Under the Cover, we chat with Montréal-based publisher Metonymy Press about the story behind acquiring Addie Tsai's debut novel
Dear Twin and how the book took shape by working with Toronto-based designer Keet Geniza, who jumped at the chance to work on the design for this life-affirming, queer YA novel about one sister's yearly letters to her missing twin.
Dear Twin was a long time in the making. Like many books, some might say it took author Addie Tsai her whole life leading up to that point to write it! But unlike some other books, it was almost published at least once before it made it to us at Metonymy.
It is Addie's debut novel, a queer YA in which protagonist Poppy loses her mirror twin sister and tries to get her back by sending Lola a series of eighteen letters, one for each year of their lives. When she's not trying to find her sister or fighting with her father, Poppy is sneaking away with her girlfriend Juniper, the only person who understands her. Part mystery, part love story, part coming of age, we're happy it landed with us.
Addie has written about the manuscript’s circuitous journey as well as
its origins elsewhere. The main — and very charming, in our opinion — constant of that journey was the cover, designed by Keet Geniza.
Queer community can be pretty small. Houston might be closer to Montreal than we think in terms of degrees of separation. Your bookseller may also be your editor’s gf, or one book’s cover designer may be roommates with another favourite author. In the case of Dear Twin, author of
Lyric Sexology Vol. 1 Trish Salah was at a conference with Addie, and the former told the latter about the small queer press in Montreal who’d published her poetry.
Prior to that, however, Addie had had a book deal. Having wanted to pursue her own cover designer, she’d asked around for queer Asian graphic designers/artists, and a friend in New York had suggested Toronto-based Keet Geniza (whose art, incidentally, hangs in my bf’s apartment). Unfortunately, the phone connection had been bad between Addie and her friend, so she hadn’t heard the name they’d suggested. In a deep online search, later, she came across them anyway! Keet was thrilled at the idea of working on a queer Asian twin book cover, and agreed to do it right away.
Keet and Addie worked really well together. Keet brought the characters to life for the author who identifies the book as drawing on her own experience. Keet is a queer Pinay illustrator based in Toronto whose work can be found
on Instagram and at
makeshiftlove.com. Here’s a
self-portrait, and we highly recommend looking at more of their work, in zines or on Instagram or anywhere else you can find their evocative, skilled, and sometimes extremely cute portraits and line drawings and recently paintings.
When Addie eventually pulled the manuscript from her previous publisher and came to us, we loved both the manuscript and the cover and were so happy to be working with Keet as well. We continued to work with them on the rest of the cover design and some of the interior drawings for this devastating and also life-affirming novel. Keet and Addie also maintained a working relationship, and Keet was extremely supportive of the launch of the book, even going so far to design surprise special promo for the
Keet and Addie finally got to meet IRL at that launch of Dear Twin in Toronto in November, where Metonymy co-publisher Ashley interviewed them after the reading about their work together on the book. They both talked about feeling like their collaboration was meant to be, and Keet admitted to being especially enamoured with illustrating the novel's young queer Asian romance between Poppy and Juniper. Addie joked about how Keet had messaged her recently to ask which character was taller — a question the author herself had to think on for a minute before responding.
It’s a real treat to have gotten to witness the work Addie and Keet put into Dear Twin. Judge it by its cover or not, this is a book worth reading.
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Addie Tsai teaches courses in literature, creative writing, dance, and humanities at Houston Community College. She collaborated with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater on Victor Frankenstein and Camille Claudel, among others. Addie holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman's University. Her writing has been published in Banango Street, The Offing, The Collagist, The Feminist Wire, Nat. Brut., and elsewhere. She is the Nonfiction Editor at The Grief Diaries and Senior Associate Editor in Poetry at The Flexible Persona.
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Thanks to Metonymy Press for joining us on the ALU blog to share about the story behind acquiring Addie Tsai's Dear Twin.
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