I also did a Twitter thread on Shut the Gates of Mercy, my third Emperor Norton time travel novella, as part of Sarah J. Sover‘s #TueSneakPeek. Mostly this book happens in a 1960’s diner, so it’s all stainless steel flatware, chipped coffee cups, and plate glass windows.
Shut the Gates of Mercy also involves Coit Tower, a gift to the city by the estate of a person who loved San Francisco and who, I believe in my queer heart, might have identified as trans, genderqueer, or gender-nonconforming today.
Lillie Coit loved the city’s fire department, attended the annual ball, and had a fireman’s uniform. Lillie also sometimes presented as a man, sometimes as a woman, and was a renowned gambler in the all-men gambling parlors of the city. I’ve got a long post about Lillie Coit and Coit Tower here.
Coit Tower is intensely utilitarian in its design, and at various times has been regarded as an eyesore. Personally, I love it and think it’s gorgeous. A persistent myth is that it was designed to resemble the nozzle of a fireman’s hose, but it was not.
Ultimately, Shut the Gates of Mercy is about how we have to use the tools available to us when we need them. Opportunity does not loiter in wait of perfection. That theme in the book and the aesthetics of where it occurs are direct reflections of one another.
All those aesthetic elements–utility, diners, Coit Tower–added up to this cover by the INCREDIBLE NataniaBarron. I absolutely love it. I love that Coit Tower, as she put it, is the eye viewing this cover. I love the coffee cup as a sort of “in a glass darkly.” It’s perfection.
If all this happens to make you want to read the book, it’s available for pre-order and comes out on Thursday!