Friday, April 27, 2012

My Cells are on the Cover of a Book!

A little reminder that good things come to those who post. About two months ago, I got a message via my etsy shop from someone who had seen my paintings of malaria in red blood cells online. I get messages like this from time to time, usually from bloggers and researchers. Which is very cool, but not as cool as this one, which was from a publisher who wanted to use my blood cells on the cover of a novel! 

The book, The Heart Broke In, a novel by British author James Meek, has a medical researcher as one of its main characters - hence the blood cells.  (

Of course I said yes, and immediately started practicing painting pages and pages of red blood cells, which is why there are so many in my etsy shop right now.  After a few days, I came up with a good-looking bunch of erythrocytes in various stages of infection with p. falciparum, the parasite that causes malaria. I sent them off to Jennifer at  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and held my breath.

Fortunately, FSG liked them too, and their graphic designer created a beautiful cover with watercolor-style lettering. And I got paid : ) 

A little kicker to this tale - I wanted to find out more about the book's author, James Meek. I chose one of his earlier novels to read - The People's Act of Love, (  from 2005.  I picked it because it was set in Russia and I used to live there. I loved the book, and from the author blurb I worked out that James Meek had lived in Russia the same time I did,  and started to wonder if we had any mutual friends. On a hunch, I asked Jamie Coomarasamy, a BBC reporter in London who was also an old Russia hand, if he knew James. Turns out they have known each other for years and had dinner together a few weeks earlier *and they discussed the cover* (O.o)

So, my friends, while it's true that the internet is full of scammers, spammers and ranters, it's also full of art, science and literature, all stitched together with connections that otherwise would never have been made. The Heart Broke In is out in October from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. I'll remind you to buy it. 



  1. That's so amazing! Is it ok if I want to ready the book based on the cover art and your awesome back story now?

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