“I want readers to be able to hear the guitar and smell the sawdust and smoke of the honkytonks.” — Jon Black
“So Lonesome,” is a tale to appeal to anyone with an interest in music, Texana, or a good old fashioned ghost story.
It brings together elements of Texas Gothic and the classic Ghost Story, with more than a passing nod to Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. It is the tale of musical prodigy Johnnie Gruene (as the story notes, “if you’re not from around here” that’s pronounced Green, like the color) his mysterious origins, big chance for fortune and glory, and enigmatic fate.
The story is set against the backdrop of the Depression-era Texas Hill Country. The latter, I believe, is one of most criminally underused settings for fiction, especially of the mysterious or macabre variety. With its ancient hills and shadow woods, long history by southwestern standards, and being touched the hands and feet of so many peoples over the centuries there is something archetypal and liminal about the region.
Of course, one of the great joys for me in writing “So Lonesome,” was drawing on my experience as a music journalist and music historian to really make the musical elements of the story come alive. The Hill Country of the 1930s was an immensely fertile crossroads for musical traditions of the past, present, and future: reels, German and Czech polkas, cowboy tunes, Gospel, blues, country, honkytonk, Western swing, and even the first stirrings of what would one day become rock and roll. As readers make their way through “So Lonesome,” I want them to be able to hear the music and smell the sawdust and smoke of the honkytonks.
One departure from my usual writing style was using Third Person Omniscient narration, but with such a distinctive voice that the narrator itself arguably becomes a character in the story.
This is a story I’d been kicking around in my head for a very long time but could never quite make it work. Serendipitously, it was the descansos angle, both literally and figuratively as a “journey interrupted” that let me tie it all together.
Throughout the whole process, working with Dark House books was true pleasure. I am very impressed by their whole operation. Descansos marks the first of new line of anthologies for them, in which submissions are selected around a central theme regardless of genre or medium. It is a fascinating concept that makes use of art’s true potency and I wish them well with it!