Monday, December 07, 2009

An Altered Book

I've already talked about the collages I do for my books, and the travel journal I'm doing for this particular Theodosia book, but I also wanted to talk about something I started doing a while back. It's similar to a collage in that it helps me access the story world in a much more, loosey-goosey creative way, without the specific writing tasks I expect to accomplish with the travel journal (voice, descriptions, travel logistics). This altered book is really more about helping me stay fully immersed in the world, while giving my mind something else to focus on besides the words on the page.

And here I must insert my disclaimer, that I am a rank amateur in the world of altered books, but I do have fun.

So first, I had to find the right book to alter. How thrilled was I to find the above book at the library's used book store--it's even a translation of an Arabic poem! How perfect.



This first image was my first experiment. It's very simple, but again, I was surprised at how much fun my subconscious had ruminating while my fingers were busy "building" something from the story world. This image is just a mood piece for the first book, touching on picking up Mother from the train station.



This next picture was trying to evoke the sense of showdown I felt when writing Book Two, involving the Dreadnought, the Serpents of Chaos, and a certain prophecy regarding a red sun...




And lastly, a scene in the catacombs, with all those mummies...



While I will confess to being all thumbs when it comes to art, I do love collaging. I love the whole "found" thing aspect of the art form, the junk turned to jewels element of taking used and discarded trash and debris from lives lived, and using that to create something beautiful and evocative.

It reminds me very much of writing, actually.

As a writer, I collect mental junk, a face here, a look there. The snippet of conversation I overheard at the restaurant. The scolding I heard the mother give her son at the grocery store. The surprising sight of a teenage punk driving his 80 year old grandmother around in his hyped up jalopy. A sunset. A birdsong. A remembered feeling from when I was seven years old. This is the sort of detritus I collect in my head, where it rolls around for years, decades sometimes, until it becomes tumbled and smoothed and juxtaposed with other things and becomes something entirely new.

Best of all, the girls in the basement LOVE it a lot, and it gets them all juiced up so I can write and write and write...

3 comments:

Lucy said...

I love this!! I've heard of story boarding and collaging, but I never thought to do it in a book. At first my little perfectionist self said, "Oh my gosh, what is she doing to that poor book? She pasted stuff in there! That is so naughty." But then I thought about how writing historical fantasy is similar to or even the same as alternative history. It's subversive. So this alternative book form seems like a perfect springboard!

L. W. said...

You are NOT all thumbs when it comes to art. This is the coolest idea. I love it!

Robin L said...

Exactly, Lucy! Subversive is my key word for the coming year. I think it should be part of every writer's thematic wardrobe. :-)

So glad you liked the idea, LW. And I bet you could make a fun project out of something similar for your kids over the l o n g holiday break.