What's in an (Author) Image?

Like a lot of people, I was struck by the Olympics story of Yang Peiyi, the little girl of the perfect voice but “imperfect” (as judged by Chinese officials) cuteness. In the Chinese “national interest,” another little girl, Lin Miaoke lip-synced “Ode to the Motherland” during the opening ceremonies…

Which in the weirdest, most convoluted way imaginable brings me to the question of the author’s image. I’ve just returned from the Romance Writers of America annual national conference in San Francisco (a city that needs no stand-in), a place with hundreds upon hundreds of authors in attendance. In honor of the gathering, we leave our normal working wear (threadbare pajamas, grubby sweats, and questionable t-shirts, in most cases) at home and dress in our version of grown-up, often with a natty new hairdo to go with it. But few of us would be mistaken for our ageless, airbrushed publicity photographs.

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