Busy-busy. But here is a stream-of-barely-conscious-thought barrage of what’s going on in my little world . . .
I’ll be the Alumni speaker, at the Writers’ Contest Banquet, at Eureka College, on the 28th of this month. I’ll talk about writing and…well…anything I want, I guess. I mean, I’ll have the mic, they’ll have to listen to me.
On March 24th and 25th Nick and I will be performing our stage magic show at Eureka, in the Pritchard Theatre. We recently took the photos for our posters and…well…I can’t believe we went through with the nutty idea we had (but I have no one to blame but myself…since it was my idea). I can’t recall a picture with less clothing…YEESH!
In case you thought to yourself, Yeah, Josh wants to become a famous, filthy rich author…but does he know what he’d do with his money? Well, part of the answer to that question is right here – SECRET PASSAGES!
I recently sent some of my epic poem to a surrealist artist in Chicago. Here name is Daina. We’re brainstorming on the artwork she’s going to make to make my book look extra purddy. In case you’re extremely board…or really interested in how a collaboration between an artist and writer might sound . . .
Attached to this email is the first chunk of my epic poem, Souls Unsure. The page numbers are still goofy on them (each chapter starts over), so I’ll just give you the order of chapters below:
-“Preshow” (this isn’t actually a chapter, just a quote that opens the book)
-Book 1: Invoking the Muse
-Interlude: Spirals and Echoes
-Interlude: Ash Wednesday
-Interlude: Ghost of the Fly
-Book 2: Why the Crow Cries
That first chunk should give you a better idea of how the prose and poetry alternate. The “Books” (like “Invoking the Muse” and “Why the Crow Cries”) are the main chapters and told in poetry – they’re the dialogue between a voodoo priestess (Mama Nancy) and a dark spirit (Crow). The “Prologue” and “Interludes” are prose chapters that go inbetween (they’re numbered accordingly on the file names…for example, “Spirals and Echoes” is file “1a” so it is the first Interlude after Book 1).
I’ll send you more bits of the story as time goes on. You can scan and skim as you like. Some images to keep an eye on in what I’ve included here are:
-Prologue: The final image of the prologue is an important one (probably good for even a cover image). The ashen stain on the little girl’s door. It is vaguely the shape of a snow angel – think of a snow angel, crossed with maybe something more frightening (like the Batman symbol), and made out of ash.
-Invoking the Muse: This chapter gives us a glimpse (in the beginning) of Mama Nancy’s altar. Other than that, there aren’t many concrete images…but lots of abstract images and ideas thrown out by both the priestess and Crow (Crow makes lots and lots of mythological allusions, they pretty much poor out of his beak).
-Spirals and Echoes: This gives us the first, clear description of Mama Nancy.
-Ash Wednesday: The last image of this story is good – a horrid face in the ash bowl.
-Ghost of the Fly: A little boy cowering from an angry phantom in the shadows…
-Confessions: A bar where all the “lost soul” drinkers drink…compared to an Underworld…maybe there could be an interesting abstract image taken from this (or mixing images of mundane drinkers with some mythological underworld stuff). The clumsy, figure made of wet ash, at the end is another good image. The image I like best, at the very end, is when the former priest talks about the smeared ash figure in the pavement and how it reminded him of those fossils of the feathered, birdlike dinosaurs at the museum. LOOK THAT PRAGRAPH OVER. I think a really cool image would be to look at photos of those fossils and make a similar fossil image, an imprint, of a dead, tortured angel.
-Why the Crow Cries: Lots of images here. Syth, the fallen angel, makes his first full appearance since the Prologue (though he appears a little bit in the other interludes…little pieces of him). Though we still don’t fully see Syth yet (there is a story-line reason for this)…just like in the Prologue, he’s a phantom cloud of ash, wavery in outline, of vaguely angelic shape, and very hard to see. The image of Syth, perched with the crows, on the street light, while the sun sets, is good. The image, at the end, of Syth getting his “fix” as he stands over the dead body of a little girl, watching her soul rising into the little window to Heaven, and staring through that window.
But feel free to find your own images and inspiration in the chapters. If you’re inspired to draw anything that isn’t strictly in the book, go right ahead, I might even write it in (collaborations can produce lots of good ideas).
As for style, that is something to play with. I’m not sure if it would be better to have literal images right out of the storyline (like say, you find on the covers of comics)…or more abstract images that represent the ideas and motifs in the story (like the covers of novels…or even The Sandman graphic novels). Any thoughts there?
I like the idea of mixing. Mixing styles from different cultures and times. As this story is a patchwork quilt of mythologies, woven into a dark, dirty modern blanket. I also would like to stress the discords, the contrasts in the story – maybe by drawing things in old styles…but throwing the viewer off with modern imagery (maybe we have an image of Syth or a demon, drawn in a medieval style…but look, there’s a broken down car and barbed wire in the background…for example). The discords are important. That’s the style emerging here…one stanza might have a pretty, poetic, lyrical set of words describing something from ancient mythology…and in the next there might be a dirty limerick.
Medieval imagery, demonology and mythology work – as does classical mythology and art – to more ancient inspirations (Egyptian and Mesopotamian). Tribal and aboriginal imagery works to as some very old concepts are mixed in as well, from animistic cultures. Mixing the two could be fun as that was the reason I chose Voodoo to be one of the vectors of the story…it’s the only religion I know of that combines ancient animism and Christian dogma so completely.
Which takes us to another area of visual inspiration – the Voodoo culture. You might just serf the web and look for images and art from the Haitian, Caribbean, and Vodou culture. Note the different way of viewing death from the western and ancient cultures…rather than grim skeletons…they have grinning skulls in drawings and carvings (like the Day of the Dead skeletons, dancing merrily) – their graveyard spirit is a laughing, jovial being. Their view of death is full of humor and sardonic mirth…just think of a happy, celebratory funeral in the streets of New Orleans, compared to a somber one in the say, New England…and you have a good indication of the difference. Actually, come to think of it, the film Beatle Juice does a good job (at least in mirthful feel) of getting the Caribbean notion of death across. My book utilizes both views and feels towards death and tragedy…so something to consider.
OK…I’m throwing a lot at you all at once. So I’ll let it stew. I’m open to any ideas and input, so don’t be afraid to throw things at me. We should meet again to discuss it once you’ve had a chance to digest this. I’d really like to visit that café you told me about. I’d love to do a reading there in the near future too.
The other day I was stuck in a really slow McDonald’s drive through line…so I opened my windows and blared “Hunger Strike” (“I’m going hungryyyyyyyy. I’m goin’ hungryyyy.”).
Wikepidia is one of the awsomest research tools a writer (or anyone else could have). It’s a free internet encyclopedia that tends to have pretty complete and accurate articles…and those articles are full of hyperlinks to related articles, making research pretty swift. If only I could get the OED online for free.
I’ve decided to use the musical concept of the CODA in my epic poem (to finish off the poetic chapters).
Instead of posting another clip from the epic poem here is the first and last sentence of the whole book. The story starts with, “The door opens . . .” and ends, “. . . the door opens.” You can put the rest together, right?
This one is for you Dee: YOU FUCK ONE GOAT!
What am I reading lately? [just finished the 2nd book of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series – catching up on my beat poetry, mostly Jack Kerouac poems and Allen Ginsber’s “Howl” – The Maltese Falcon – A dash of Lord Byron poetry (I think if you were to blend Byron, Poe, and beat poetry…it would be about what I aspire towards) – Japanese Manga comics about vampires (Helsing)]
What am I listening to lately? [a general mix of things, but a lot of Led Zeplin, White Stripes, Radiohead, Gorillaz, swing music, and a dash of spooky orchestra stuff]
T.S. Elliot has this to say about my birth month:
APRIL is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
What’s so bad about that. I like breeding pretty blooms out of dead things.
I don’t know of any special significance of today…but yesterday was the Babylonian Feast of Marduk.
I’m out . . .