Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Lisa's Strange Attraction

Lisa's Strange Attraction
I shot a cat once, when I lived in south Georgia (rattlesnake capital of the world) and came upon the poor thing after it was bitten. I was miles from any help and it suffered horribly. What I remember most after all these years, is how much I shook. Everything else faded, but that. Not the shaking.

I'll post a photo of the table, but not tonight, as it was another very long day and now that the house is settled and quiet, I'm very content to sit here on the floor with my Sapporo for dinner, and type. At this moment I'm grateful for those typing classes in high school. I can lie back with my eyes closed and write for long intervals. I'm such a child sometimes---I make the effort to take a drink and return to the keyboard without looking, with as little movement as possible. Hmmm, I can almost hear and smell the surf... But, yes, the house is quiet and at these moments I return to this idea of the broken animal. It came to me a couple of weeks ago and still the image hasn't fully formed. Sometimes relationships become living things, outside of the people involved in them. They are living dynamics, animals. And sometimes, no matter how sick or rabid or wounded the thing is, nobody wants to be the one to insert the bullet. I ask myself, how much suffering does it take to justify taking the thing out of its misery? And I answer myself. None. Justification is not required. A dynamic is alive, in a sense---after all, we tend to interchange the adjectives, dynamic and alive---but a dynamic is not a cat.
Perhaps what we're afraid of is the shaking.

Lisa's Strange Attraction
I made this Ferris wheel out of wood. I carved most of it, from boards a man named Ed Clements salvaged from an old boat in Panama City. It was mahogany, which has a natural preservative that humans and other living things shouldn't breathe. So I did the carving mostly with a Dremmel, sitting out on the broad wrap-around front porch wearing as many layers of everything possible. I think it was about fifteen degrees outside most days.
It was a commissioned piece by Jane and Howard Frank, and you can see it in their Chrysalis Books - Great Fantasy Art Themes which has a chapter on the carnival.
Ed Kramer and I were looking at it at the World Fantasy Convention in Chicago. Other people were looking at it too, and several authors suggested there were stories in there.
Ed liked that idea, and the concept of an anthology of stories, each based on a different rider (each car was occupied) was born.
Gene Wolfe wrote a fabulous story called "Pocketsful of Diamonds", Neil Gaiman wrote "Harlequin Valentine", John Shirley wrote an amazingly tender story called "Occurance at Owl Street Bridge" (pun intended). David Niall Wilson wrote "Deep Blue" which has been just published as a Novel.Deep Blue Kramer put together a first-rate group of writers; Caitlin Kiernan, Chet Williamson, Jack Dann, Charles DeLint, Brad Linaweaver, Michael Bishop......on and on.
Then, we got this brilliant idea to go another step in this artistic exploration. Each author had chosen a part of the sculpture to write about, so a photograph of that character would preceed each story. Then, I would read the stories, and reinterpret them with pencil drawings. It took the better part of a year for me to do the drawings alone. Kramer had required each author to include a Ferris wheel somewhere in their stories. In fairness, I put a Ferris wheel, sometimes hidden subtly, in every drawing.
Bereshith Publishing produced three editions. A hard cover open edition, a limited edition with signatures of all the contributors that had color plates of each of the drawings , and a crazy deluxe edition that was leather-bound, tray cased and came with a token coin and a statue of the jester (the subject of Neil's story).
The plan was to get these editions out and then get a trade paperback into full circulation. It was a beautiful book, it was a beautiful plan.
Then Ed Kramer got into legal troubles, he dropped out of circulation and nobody else could or would touch the project. I was disappointed enough to become very depressed and stop working. I decided to go back to school and return to the laboratory environment where editors and artists and publishers dared not tread.

So...... That didn't happen. Which events might be another rant, or story, or best left alone. At any rate, I gathered myself, moved as far away from the whole mess as possible and made other art.
Now that I'm no longer shaking.... I can look at the anthology without the attached memories and see it for the beautiful thing it is. I sent an email to the publisher to ask if there are any more copies left.
This came about because Ravyn sent me a link to Jason's jason erik lundberg blog where he'd mentioned finding a copy of it. Jason wrote a story called "Wicked Games" based on another sculpture of mine. He seems to think I no longer am interested in drawing it. Maybe not as a graphic novel, but certainly it merits illustration. I remember it as a good story. I don't remember deciding not to do it. Hmmm. I should maybe look into that again. Though I must warn that there are three projects in line already.

This really got long. And I'm nearly out of beer and energy. Orion is sleeping just beside me. Gurtie (our cat whose name isn't short for Gertrude, but for Regurgitate, which is, fittingly, her full name) is sprawled out on the other side.

Tomorrow I am spending packing and shipping art to people who have paid me and graciously been patient while I ranted and scrambled to get art sent to Boskone. Angels and flying nightmares and rats will be traveling....

I promise to fill in the links tomorrow (or Ravyn will if I fail to, because always, Ravyn has my back) for Strange Attraction, and anything else I missed. I've heard rumours that she sneaks in late at night and fixes my typos....

G'night and thank you and be careful out there...


Jason Erik Lundberg said...

Hey Lisa! Actually, to clarify, the graphic novel project for "Wicked Game" didn't happen because of me, not you. I remember you were pretty enthusiastic about it, actually. But for whatever reason, the story just did not want to be converted from a prose into script form.

Coincidentally, I just looked at the very first entry on my blog, almost four years ago, where I was talking about this very thing. Maybe it still could be released as a chapbook. After all, I do run (with my wife) a small press now. It's at a weird length, 9500 words, and publishers are hesitant about buying something that's a bit too long to fit a short story slot, but a bit too short to fit a novella slot. If I decide to release it through Two Cranes, I'll definitely let you know, because I would love your illustrations alongside my words.

Strange Attraction is a beautiful book, a wonderful artifact. I show it to all my writer friends who happen to visit.

And I love that your cat's full name is Regurgitate.

Carl V. Anderson said...

I am assuming this is the same book that is listed on And if I am reading your post right it sounds like the deluxe copies didn't come to fruition? Its too bad if that's the case and I would encourage you to explore other publishing options. You travel in a fairly influential circle and surely someone out there would be willing to do some sort of high quality presentation even if it was just a limited run of books. Glad you didn't let this discourage you and that you continued to create.

lisa said...

The deluxe edition with the statue is definitely available at Bereshith Publishing. As are the other 2 hard cover editions. What didn't happen is the trade paperback.

Anonymous said...


...Your right....everything is flying...

....great metaphor....

Anonymous said...

Hi, Lisa,
I first saw your work in Atlanta
at the HorrorCon, where I ordered my copy of Strange Attraction. It's
one of my real tresures. I'm glad you can love it again.

Anonymous said...

Like any good Ferris Wheel, Strange Attraction is something that shouldn't be stopped. It's been five years since the publication, yet the stories and book are as fresh as if they were just published yesterday. It makes my heart glad that Lisa has once again decided to ride the Wheel, and I'm there beside her.

For the record, there are still copies of all editions of Strange Attraction available. Yes, even the deluxe, statue-included edition (which I find hard to believe). This is a true collector's item, and the attention to all details, from stories, to binding, to case, to coin, to sculpture, truly show the feelings we all felt (and feel) about Lisa's artwork.

If you have not procured your own copy, I really can't stress enough the experience you're missing. If you are interested in owning a copy, please check out the Strange Attraction section at

I dearly hope to see you all at the carnival...we'll save a seat on the Wheel for you!