Even the smallest spark has wildfire potential and Sera was like a living ember. She was the raging fire to Lonna’s calm, cool waters. Short for Seraphina, she was named for her cherubic appearance, her unkempt hair creating a wild blonde halo about her head. Sera’s sweet face got her about near anything she wanted from adults. She hailed from the largest family in the village, stuck smack in the middle of so many siblings she pretended to not know how many she had. Sera slithered out of Sunday service by claiming the bassist gave her impure thoughts, causing her mother to ban her from attending. For a woman with so many children, she was awfully terrified of sex, Sera thought with self-satisfied amusement. After her family disappeared down the lane, Sera took off running in the other direction to meet Lonna in the woods, flying high on the thrill of freedom, on their way to met some wholly unholy ghosts.
A little introduction to the hero of our tale, Lonna.
Field notebook firmly in hand. At least one pencil woven into her thick black braid for easy storage. A bit of a collector. Many things in her pockets at all times. Lonna constantly wore the “Cardigan of 1000 Pockets”, a gift from Sera and perfect for specimen collecting in the woods. She considered herself something of a scientist and had filled many journals and notebooks with her observations of creatures and flora in the woods. The pages were peppered with small, hurried drawings and notes in the margins, more often questions than anything else.
Lonna's bedroom was filled with jars of curiosities, terrariums with various mosses growing. She kept bioluminescent mushrooms growing under her bed, next to her neat row of shoes. The glow from under the bed was intense enough to read by late at night - one of her favorite activities. At one end of the room stood a towering, teetering bookshelf, stuffed with books & further stacks on top, beside, before it, giving the impression of a small metropolis growing out of the floorboards.
Having once seen the etching Exposition au Salon de 1787 in an art history book, Lonna’s walls were covered nearly floor to ceiling in framed drawings, pinned notebook pages, dried flowers and herbs, and a large collection of shadow boxes. Each one housed varieties of moths, butterflies, and various other insects. Some featured rocks. No matter the contents, each specimen had its own little note card describing its traits. When she couldn’t find the Latin name, she’d make one up. She recorded their observable characteristics and their folkloric ties. To Lonna, who had grown up watching her mother embroider & weave next to the light of the fireplace, the world was one giant tapestry, made of millions of threads woven together, everything connected, many paths to the truth, and because of her dad James (an ocular specialist, who had a workshop where he made glasses, monoculars, binoculars, telescopes, mirrors, and some objects of a more mysterious variety...) there were also many different lenses through which to see it.
It pierces the horizon, a strange, thick mist hangs heavy around the mountain, and has for as long as anyone could remember, and is the reason why Ghost Mountain is named just so. The Old Folks insist that this is a sacred spirit of protection, called up from the heart of the mountain. Most people nowadays just assumed it was a coal seam that caught fire and couldn’t be put out, but at any rate, it saved the mountain from extinction. But with every explosion in the surrounding mountainside, Ghost Mountain became ever more secluded, less connected to the outside world. It was many hours and even more miles by train on switchback tracks through thick forest before you’d arrive at the next semblance of a town. The people of Ghost Mountain were alone. Or so they thought.
I intend to write and illustrate a story.
This is a story that has been steadily brewing, rendering for years inside my heart and imagination. It's a work in progress. At present, the story appears thusly: a small green notebook lined with scribblings, several disjointed documents in my Google Drive, a glorious moodboard doing me a fat lot of good in my studio thousands of miles away, and yet more scraps of paper and torn out sketchbook pages of character designs. In an effort to turn this story in my head into actual words on paper, I decided to start a series of relief prints that would help me focus on major events, characters and settings. A lot of the difficulty in writing ~ for me ~ is having too many options and ideas and locking myself into even a small detail feels scary. Making visual choices somehow feels less daunting (probably because I make them regularly & without worrying much about "ruining" things).
Having always been inspired by the richly illustrated illuminated manuscripts of medieval Bibles and books of prayer, I'm embarking on a mission to create 10... maybe 12 linoleum block relief prints that combine beautiful imagery & text to spin a clear narrative, each one depicting major events in my original story. Along with every print I plan to release snippets of the story, each subsequent block will be another chapter in the tale.
I thought I'd keep a record of the process here, and let it be a home for the story of the story of Ghost Mountain and its strange inhabitants; about the girls who treat with ancient mountain gods, confer with creatures and conspire with spirits. And one determined to win back her father's soul, stolen and hidden inside a raven.
Looking forward to spinning this tale, letting things evolve & sharing it all with you.
High Lonesome is the story of Ghost Mountain, a remote Appalachian village populated by spirits, long-forgotten gods & the descendants of a defunct cult. We follow our hero Lonna, as she outwits gods and ghosts alike to win back her father's soul from the malevolent forces in the woods.
This project tells the story of Ghost Mountain through a series of hand-carved relief prints that are designed as illuminated manuscripts and supplemental illustrations. This page is an invitation to step into the story as I write it: a place to document the process, from taking notes in my little green book to mapping out characters in my sketchbook to pulling the final print. This is a living, breathing story. You are most welcome here, dear reader ♥