Weird and Wicked Appalachian Writers

My parents moved to Ravenswood, WV sometime before I started kindergarten. A few years before we moved to Ravenswood, I was born – in Ravenna, OH. Neither place has any connection to Edgar Allen Poe’s raven, but Edgar Allen Poe is considered by some to be the father of Weird Fiction. Perhaps my geography has something to do with my attraction to the darker, stranger side. Maybe it was because my friends and I used to play around an abandoned casket factory in my hometown whose football team was once called the Casket Makers – or maybe it was the Sunday sermons I listened to growing up whose main focus continually was death, Hell, and the wiles of the devil. Yes, we sang “One, two, three, the devil’s after me! Four, five, six, he’s always playing tricks!” It’s just in my nature now to be intrigued and inspired by the occult, ghost stories, and folk legends.

Now, we’ve been in Charleston, W. Va. – as the natives are apt to abbreviate it –  for six years. For those of you who leave WV and return, you notice certain feelings associated with the land and mountains here. The feelings are legendary and contagious. West Virginia seems one of the few truly magical places on earth – when the heavy mists bloom upward from the green forests and the amber sun sets, when thick nature quiets the frenetic noise of modern America into the oceanic shushing of the wind through the trees – hold your breath, squint, and lean toward that shifting shadow that sways and waits at the very edge of your senses. There it is. That’s it. It’s luring you to step out of your day-to-day and into a wild, darkling country.

Here, in the shimmering twilight of West Virginia, things slow down. There is time for hearth fire and songs. In the orange glow of the westering sun and the purring of flames, one feels the stretching of the heart and imagination out into the realms of myth and mountain, song and sorrow, wicked and whimsy. People from all over have stories to tell, but in West Virginia, the legends still breathe.

It is because of the unique experiences and story telling styles of Appalachian writers that I think it important to showcase and support these incredible artists – their terrors, humor, and the deep romance they have with the land and the waters and the mountains.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be interviewing a few of these fine magicians for my blog.

Next year, Contagious Magic, Inc., my nascent publishing company, will begin taking submissions for publication.

The mission of Contagious Magic, Inc. is to amplify and archive the weird and wild storytellers of Appalachia in print and publication.

Keep watching my blog for updates and follow me on Twitter @joshuatkent




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The Raggedy Man – and other news

Special Books The Raggedy Man and The Witch at Sparrow Creek will be signed at Shockacon and will be sold at a reduced package price, or bring your pre-purchased copy of one and get the other book for a big discount. Kindle counts! Show us your Kindle copy!

Here’s what else is coming…

Lifetime Learning Series at West Virginia University – I’ll be teaching a writing class in October. Click here to view the course catalogue.

My new play, “A Thing of Shadows” is under review by Ohio City Theatre Project for a full production. Dates TBA

My nascent publishing company Contagious Magic, Inc. will begin assembling its staff and writing its mission statement.

About the books and my writing…

I wanted to bring a new literary style to the world of supernatural adventure. There’s rhythm, mystery, and song in the old-style storytelling and I was impressed and inspired by Appalachian folklore, ghost stories, and also Navajo singers. That the old stories used to be sung, that they were shared and repeated, and meant for changes in style depending upon the singer. This is what I aimed at with The Witch at Sparrow Creek. A limited, terce language – patterns – dialects and monologues –  but also errors. Humans are rife with them and I could never forget how Harold Pinter put as much space and dead ends in his dialogue as the unedited Grimm’s Fairy Tales put unexplained sausages and devil houses to dance.

“While the words were so important, Scott Hanson’s artistry exposes the strangeness of Falk’s world like lightning over scraggly trees.”

The Raggedy Man predates The Witch at Sparrow Creek by about a decade and is filled with action. Originally, it was released on this blog in three parts, and was designed as vignettes to advertise and peak into the expanding world in which Jim Falk and his companions struggle against a nameless evil. While the words were so important, Scott Hanson’s artistry exposes the strangeness of Falk’s world like lightning over scraggly trees. Hanson’s work makes this exclusive mini-series worth the having. The Raggedy Man is now available as a special print from Amazon and on your Kindle device.

Later this month, I’ll be at West Virginia’s Shockacon on a panel with some other writers of local renown. Importantly, I will be sitting at a table with the very talented illustrator, Scott Hanson – whose dark and vivid imaginings appear in The Raggedy Man. Bring your copy and we’ll sign them. The two books – The Witch at Sparrow Creek and the special edition The Raggedy Man, will be on sale at a reduced rate at our booth during the convention.

Thanks so much – oh – and check out the intro to The Raggedy Man, you may find that I’ve thanked you there!


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