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