We are excited to reveal the cover for Karma Khullar’s Mustache. The debut middle grade novel by The Winged Pen’s Kristi Wientge.
Karma is entering middle school and is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend, or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of dadima, or that her daddy is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mom to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip. With everyone preoccupied, Karma has no one to turn to, and must figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise.
I LOVE this story! Such an original idea, yet an issue that affects a lot of young girls.
For aspiring writers out there, let’s look at the timeline of Karma Khullar’s Mustache from beginning to end. So from idea to date of publication.
The idea of this book has always been with me—seriously. As an avid reader from early on, I was always searching for a book about a hairy girl and knew I had to write one, one day. BUT, it was at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in May 2011 that Karma’s character finally had a name and a story. I entered Pitch Madness & Sun Vs. Snow in March 2015 and agent Patricia Nelson set up a call (THE CALL!!!) and offered representation on the 12th of March 2015. We completed about three rounds of revisions and were officially on submission in June. We had two nibbles during the first round of sub, but in September we started the second round of submissions and immediately Liz Kossnar at Simon & Schuster showed interest. She took Karma to acquisition mid-October and we sold it! Then, it was April 2016 when we got the ball rolling with edits for Karma. After that initial edit letter, things went pretty quickly. There weren’t huge changes to make, so Liz and I swapped edits a few times and then I was shown the first pass pages in September and now my cover in October! All together about 4 years.
Wow! Things seem to happen quickly, unlike what we normally hear about the publishing process. How would you describe your journey to becoming a published author?
In one word, surreal.
Let’s talk about the amazing and fun cover. First, who is the illustrator?
I have heard great and not-so-great stories about author’s feelings when they first see their book covers. What were your feelings when you first saw it?
Well, if I’m honest, I was a bundle of feelings. It was exciting, but also not really what I expected, but I didn’t hate, but I didn’t know if I loved it… It’s so weird to see how other people interpret your story. I kept the PDF of the cover on my phone for several days and would find myself looking at it at random times. Now I can’t imagine any other cover for it!
Did the Karma on the cover look like what you imagined when you were writing?
I actually don’t have a strong visual of my characters when I write. There’s this foggy kind of blur of a person. Mostly, I’ve got about 3 or 4 versions of my character based on people I know or have seen and I kind of mash it up in my head, but not in a really concrete way. So, really, I think the illustrator did a fantastic job of sorting it all out!
How much input were you able to give during the illustrating process?
None! Ha! I was shown a concept a few months back and I did tell Patricia my initial concerns. For example, I wondered if the whole concept looked too young—like it’d only catch the interest of younger kids. Was it too cartoonish? Basically, I was in the minority with those concerns. But, like I said, I really can’t imagine any other cover now.
I think the cover is fun. And for someone like me, who may or may not have had hair on her upper lip, it is a must read! Now before you go, I have a few really personal questions!
Plotter or panster? Plotter.
Coffee or tea? Coffee, unless it’s masala tea.
Sweet or salty? Salty.
Dog, cat, or goldfish? Robofish—I can’t take care of any more people or things that expect me to remember to feed them!
If you’re secret reading under the covers, what three books are worth the risk of getting caught? Keats! He’s always next to my bed as is my Bible and I’d definitely sneak in some David Sedaris for a good laugh after a crazy day.
For more information about Kristi, check out her bio.
HALLI GOMEZ teaches martial arts and writes for children and young adults because those voices flow through her brain. She enjoys family, outdoors, reading, and is addicted to superhero movies. You can find her on Twitter.