New author photo, starred review

For those of you not be-Twittered or a-Facebooked, these are the new author photos I got recently, since my old one was a whopping 7 years old. (Time flies when you’re having fun.) And while that old photo was awesome — taken by fellow pro author and amateur photographer E. C. Myers, with a little touching-up by fellow pro author and graphic designer Kris Dikeman — it was time to retire it. Haven’t worn my hair that way in years, and also I’ve earned my “older and wiser”, and I wanted that to show.

So this time around I went full professional. On a recommendation from Orbit’s art director, Lauren Panepinto — who better to know awesome author photographers? — I contacted Laura Hanifin, who’s done some amazing work already. I wanted someone who knew how to photograph regular people, not just models and actors whose job it is to look good. I needed someone who could advise me on what to wear and what kind of lighting would be best, because dammit Jim I’m a writer not a visual person. And I wanted someone who could capture my “author face”.

See, as anyone who’s met me in person will know, I’m geeky and have a twelve-year-old’s sense of humor, and can be shy. But — like most authors, I think — I put on a different face when I’m writing. Then I’m focused, controlled, channeling the personae and worlds in my head. I used to think that I was “just” writing science fiction and fantasy, “just” fiction. Yet I’ve come to understand over the years of my pro career that there’s no “just” about it. Because of who I am, because of how small others want the world to be, even something so simple as having an imagination is a revolutionary act. My writing is an act of defiance; my very existence, a challenge. I didn’t ask for this. I just wanted to write good books… but after the first death threat, it was on.

So be it; I can handle it. And this is who I am, too:

head and shoulders portrait of N. K. Jemisin

I cannot stress how absolutely delighted I am with this pic. It was an intentional choice not to smile, if you’re wondering. Smiles have meaning for women who are authors, and that gets more complicated for women of color. So although I got a few other, “smilier” photos made, too, which I’ll toss into blog posts and give to interviewers and such… this is the one that will be going in my books from here forth. Given production schedules and so on, it’s too late for this to go into The Fifth Season, but you’ll see it after that.

And apropos of which, just found out TFS got a starred review from Library Journal!

Multiaward winner Jemisin breaks uncharted ground with this long-awaited title that introduces a fresh world and trilogy, creating a completely realized society inhabited by three varieties of humans and a nonhuman species that lives inside the earth. With Jemisin’s record of prestigious literary honors, plus her strong following, this is a must-buy for all speculative fiction collections and an excellent recommendation for fans of Brandon Sanderson’s “Mistborn” trilogy.

Aww, yeah.

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13 Responses »

  1. The new author photo looks great and congratulations on the Library Journal review!

  2. So you shouldn’t put too much stock in the opinions of a random fan, but that photo came out just fantastic. You just look so dignified and intelligent and attractive-without-being-sexual. I haven’t seen you in real life, but I can totally buy that that’s the person who wrote those words that blew my mind and created kingdoms in my head and readjusted my worldview a little bit, hopefully for the better.

    Looking forward to The Fifth Season.

  3. New photo is fantastic :D

  4. The new photo makes me think “I would be honored to know that person.” And congratulations on the review!

  5. I LOVE this photo. At first glance, before I read your post, I thought that this was a woman who is strong, fierce, sure of herself, contemplative, and no-nonsense, and yet still has that sense of warmth and friendliness that was the primary impression of the previous photo. This is a woman who has PRESENCE. This is a woman who thumbs her nose up at fools, fearlessly.

    I liked the woman in the first picture, but I have to say I think I like the woman in this picture MORE. She’s got character.

    Plus, she’s a damn good writer.

    Looking forward to reading the Fifth Season!

  6. I know that’s the case for advertising photos, and I think I may have heard about the author portrait thing before but not really thought more about it than that.

    Some books don’t have author photos at all; I wonder what percentage of that is due to physical format/restrictions/budget, and what percentage is a deliberate choice on the part of the author or the publisher.

    Reading the link… it annoys me that not-smiling, on its own, is taken to be some kind of hostility or whatever. Your new photo, for instance, could be described as contemplative and dignified; that other author’s photo in the article looks like she’s about to tell a joke, for heaven’s sake! How these poses can be taken negatively is both mystifying and irritating.

    Sigh… I feel like all the books I’m waiting for are either 1) coming out later this year (with mental emphasis on “later”) or 2) already out, but not available at the library for whatever reason. I wish to use magical magnet hands to zap them to my siiiiiide.

  7. You look stunning. Absolutely fabulous.

  8. The photo looks great, and that’s thrilling about the review. Congrats! You’re one of my favorite writers. You, Patrick Rothfuss, and Malinda Lo helped reawaken my love for epic fantasy several years ago.

  9. The new photo looks wonderful. It has a wonderful sense of gravitas, which sounds from your description exactly like what you were going for.

  10. Ooh – what a great shot that is! Your photographer is a *good* portraitist, and I love the way they used lighting and how they framed your face. (Am also a fan of your latest ‘do.)

    Character isn’t dependent on smileyness and whatever is thought to be typical presentation for women – and I think your character comes through in this shot. Contemplative, focused (and fierce) intelligence – and, I think, compassion – come through just fine. Integrity: personal, artistic, and more.

    Though I do want to see the shots where you cracked a smile, too.

    Very much looking forward to your latest!

  11. REALLY beautiful. I think it makes you look younger than the old photo.

  12. That’s a great photo! And congratulations on the review. As a black female writer, can I ask about the smiling in pictures?

  13. When I first read one of your novels (Hundred Thousand Kingdoms), I was struck by the command, the authority of the writing voice. I knew immediately I was in safe hands and could surrender to the journey that voice would take me on. And in book after book, that voice has never let me down. This new photo perfectly matches that voice.

The Broken Earth Book Two:

The Obelisk Gate

Thumbnail of The Obelisk Gate cover

Read Sample Chapter 1


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