Friday 3 December 2021


Twelve years after starting this blog, I have a book to offer you. The title is a line from one of the poems I wrote during that interminable hospital stay in 2009, those extraordinary three months in which I found my voice. It plays on a central theme of my life, not just the book, which is this: is it normal and natural to be ill, or is it unnatural, abnormal? How can one love one's given life for all that it is, if we are trying desperately to divest ourselves of a thing that arrived, with shadowy wings and teeth, but then settled over long years into some sort of companionable foe?  

Here is my cover, companionable foe et al! I do hope you will buy the book and let me know what you think after or while you read it. You can purchase it from any country on Amazon by searching for my name or the book’s name or, if you’re in the UK, click this link.

Over the past seven years, from its nascent beginnings as a dissertation for my Masters, I used another, sweeter image to inspire me - a children's illustration by the artist Maia Chavez Larkin - one which I have often used as a header for this blog. And then suddenly, it didn't seem right. Perhaps I was hoping that a taming would become possible. That I would develop a sort of commanding presence over the growling, snarling beast - but after several bouts of sepsis, including a birthday episode only a few months ago, I knew I had almost fallen into the old trap of underestimating auto-immunity. 

My book covers thirty years worth of navigating this odd, unnatural thing in the midst of a lucky, beautiful life, so when I happened upon the bold red and black, teeth and tail, hood and vulnerable back, I knew instantly that I had found my book's cover. The artist is Silja Goëtz, a German illustrator based in Madrid. You can find more of her work at her website here. But, in gratitude to Maia, I also incorporated the original sad but hopeful stomp through the snow…


Sherry Blue Sky said...

THIS IS THE BEST NEWS EVER!!!!!! Shaista, way to go! I am ordering my copy this instant. I LOVE the cover, it is very apt. Oh my goodness, I am so tickled. You may not have heard that B.C. has been going through atmospheric river flooding, with devastating results to many thousands of humans with, sadly, untold thousands of animal deaths. So this good news lifts my heart. Will e you soon, we must catch up. I have been quiet of late, observing the accelerating climate crisis with concern and a definite level of frustration at leaders in denial. Congratulations on your book. You know how long I have waited for this day!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

P.s. a poet i know just posted about a new anthology titled But You Dont Look Sick, with essays from people with invisible illness like fibro and lupus. The subtitle refers to Lupus Warriors. I thought you might be interested.

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