So obviously I believe writing has an ongoing relationship with other arts, and for me this is most often the case with the visual arts. Hey, look who said it first without me even knowing! Why, Flannery O’Connor.
While writing A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY, I discovered that I had an easier time swapping between the voices if I used visual (and some olfactory) cues. For example, this photograph by Cig Harvey was one of my touchstones for Mosey.
When it was time to go back to Mosey’s voice, I would look at it. In this self-portrait; her body looks so young, firm little breasts pressing against this fresh-colored gingham, the hands opening the skirt in unselfconscious invitation, the apple with its single missing slice, the air only JUST beginning to faintly brown the flesh…
This picture for me is the last perfect lovely breathless moment of innocence, and this is the place where Mosey lives. At least before she goes to Montgomery. HEH. Looking at this picture would push Big’s voice out and reform Mosey whole in my head.
This picture is a reverse Fic-Fact. I didn’t pull it out of the book. I pulled the book out of it, and I still think it is AMAZING that my editor and publisher and the smartipantses in marketing ALL immediately went OH THAT SHOULD BE THE COVER, and that Cig Harvey let us use it.
Backseat Saints did not HAVE a Fic Fact….Until now.
NACC recently did a One Read event with Backseat Saints, and the Southern Fiction class (and I think also an American Lit class) pulled events/images/ideas OUT of the book and made them into physical objects, which was so AMAZING to see all these visual arts projects coming out of the book and being…actual and factual and touchable.
My favorite? This REVERSABLE DOLL. Ever seen a Red Riding Hood reversible doll? Granny in a night-dress, but flip her skirt and turn her over and OH McNO! A TERRIBLE WOLF!
This was like that, except with Rose and her mom. The DETAILS kill me. See how Mirabelle is wearing a rosary, holding Tarot cards, and in her handbook is a copy of thre Stephen King book she has in the airport.
Flip it, and there Ro in her long sleeves, holding her shorn hair. If you look close at the ROSE Pic, you can see Mirabelle’s hand with the Tarot cards snaking out from under her skirt. HA!
Here are a few more…
There was no way to get all of this one. It was a HUGE road map with stops along it that told the whole book. Here we leave the woods scene with Gretel (note the bandaged leg!) and head to Cadillac Ranch. See the jagged edge of the Coke bottle? The detail on this was meticulous and crazy-smart.
This one is, in person, quite clever. It’s more subtle than in the photograph. I looked at it for several long seconds wondering what it had to do with the book. It just looked like a pleasant little house, and then you realize what is happening inside is not readily apparent from the external view. Smartipants.
And then, Last but CERTAINLY not least…