We were both very impressed by the Swedish author/artist Simon Stålenhag, and his narrative art books “Electric State”, “Tales from the Loop” and “Things from the Flood”. Stålenhag’s unique mix of spare storytelling and hauntingly realistic artwork makes for a very interesting and visually compelling read. “Electric State” takes special advantage of the above, using said style to almost overwhelm the reader with images of a dark, dystopian, yet eerily “quiet” version of an alternate 1997.
Which made us wonder. Busy day jobs and an otherwise erratic and crowded daily schedule have made it difficult for us to really sit down and build another novel like our first, the dark “Krissy’s Notebook”. The final draft of which still took Joe over a year to finish, even after quitting his job and with Leigh’s constant support. But we do have several more great story ideas already outlined/written out and waiting to be made into something more, so why not try crafting them into art narratives, a la’ Mr. Stålenhag’s books? With not quite as much text, but fleshed out with compelling images? After all, this (ironically perhaps) was the original idea we’d had for Ann William: “Art Fiction” and the mix of compelling images and/or artwork with otherwise traditional fiction. And we’re both passable artists, so… Why not go back to that original idea?
Because as any author who’s done an honest-to-God novel knows, doing so takes a lot of writing and re-writing, and for us that requires a lot of uninterrupted time sitting and concentrating on all the little details that will help tell the story well. Time which, for us, doesn’t come easy. Not with day jobs and families and homesteads and the many other life commitments we seem to have. Especially when the writer’s life can be so “insular”. Sitting alone in a darkened office, staring at a screen, trying to figure out how to put your thoughts into just the right words. All while your family is somewhere else without you, politely leaving you alone so you can work. The last thing we want to do after all the above is hole ourselves away from our loved ones.
Crafting visual art however, can be a far less solitary endeavor. Visual art depicts a moment, and once you get the idea for that moment, it’s all over but the crying. There are no more deep thoughts about sentences and structure, no more need to sit alone, oyster-like while you concentrate. Get the idea on the board or the canvas or the Wacom or whatever and the rest is just artistic monkey work. Work that can be done in the studio with the rest of the family, while “Interpol” cranks on the stereo, and they play cards or do yoga or do whatever else. Maybe even write or draw something of their own.
So the above image represents an early stage of Ann William testing those waters; seeing if the idea works. And what better way to do that than with a scene from our first book? So far so good, right? Although Ann (and several other bra-wearing females) have already pointed out the “issue” with Krissy’s bra- (yes, that will be fixed). Hopefully you like it anyway:-)
After that there will probably be at least one or two images of a battered Chevelle fleeing a nightmare across upstate New York (our story “The Last Italian Tune-Up”), and sooner or later an image of an old Trans-Am parked in the darkness on a Nevada desert hillside, its windows fogged up, while Area 51 burns off in the distance (our story “Birdsong”). Until those, and others, along with the occasional pic of our favorite sociopath, Krissy, finally stack up into a pile big enough to do an art narrative book around..
And if you’re so inclined, you can always follow us for progress pics of this and subsequent pieces, along with snippets of whatever story each image relates to.
Yours, and Yours, A-W