Showing posts from December, 2023

A House in the Forest - the book

  And finally, “A House in a Forest” the book itself! An old fashioned hardback, clothbound book, and with a dust jacket of sorts - that has been a dream of mine.  I am also extremely pleased with myself for getting the layout/design done after learning some basic InDesign. My years of hovering around James when he worked at home also meant that all this was not alien to me. But you know, “on my own” is not true. Whenever I hit a road bump, friends who are real designers were ever ready to answer my idiot questions - thank you @jon @stellakwan  I wanted a very quiet book, with minimal interventions up front, so as to let the world within do its work. And they do tell the story well together. @messymsxi’s drawings are everything the words could have asked for. So what’s needed with the layout and design is to set the stage, manage the pauses and breaks, the hints and breaths. Because the act of reading a physical book is ultimately still a visceral one. The book is an object and more -

A House in a Forest - the drawings

The decision to ask @messymsxi to draw for the story was instinctive. Because I knew these things: she loves nature (and plants!); she is serious and extremely thoughtful about every project; and there is a softness about her work. One of the things we discussed in the beginning was that we didn’t want was to show anything fully, especially humans.    We spoke about windows and glimpses, and the feeling of observing something unfold. We had these types of brief conversations and shared some reference images of houses in forests…then Messymsxi worked her magic!  I asked her these questions recently: Q1) You developed a new “technique” for yourself in the process - why? “The chosen technique gradually took shape through a series of trial and error sketches. My intention was for the drawings to evoke a mood reminiscent of memories, akin to flashbacks rendered in the black-and-white alike old photographs.    I thought it was very important that t he style of the drawings not only complimen

A House in a Forest - the story

  My new book with MessyMsxi called A House in a Forest will be out from the printers and available late December. The world feels noisier and messier than ever before. There is an aggression and fear - a kind of stink. Then there is the sort of helpless noise we make - loud, cloying, sometimes violent. It’s a nightmare. Like the stink monster in Spirited Away, violent, smelly yet pitiful at the same time. One morning I woke up from a different kind of nightmare, an unhappy dream. And in the moments before getting out of bed, I had an image of a house in a forest.  Because it is in a forest, nature’s live-giving but sometimes destructive chaos surrounds it - and shapes it.  Some things change and some things remain the same. Some things are restored, some are forever lost - and some things begin anew. The literature students among you will recognise this pattern as a romance. That very day, I finished a draft of a short story about a house in a forest during my lunch break and the tr