Hello Everyone! We are so excited to share with you the news that the familiar Sunday Morning Transport bridge icon (a photo Fran took during our first meeting about the Transport) will soon be replaced with new art from award-winning author and artist Kathleen Jennings (you may have read her most recent story for us, if not, go catch up!).
To celebrate, we are using this week to post a special interview with Kathleen herself, where she talks about the process and thought behind the new art, as we share it with you.
Check out these beauties :
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SMT: Tell us a little about the new art for The Sunday MorningTransport!
Kathleen Jennings: The illustration is a silhouette, cut out of black paper with a knife. Well, in this case it is two silhouettes — it's such a long piece that to be able to get the final detail I had to separate it into two halves, and add a few extra leaves and curlicues to finish each off. The image contains four stand-alone square images which can be extracted to work as logos, and then the overarching design needed to blend those and flow across the whole — incorporating extra motifs for balance and structure, yes, but also for delight or fun. It was an interesting illustration to approach, because it wasn't intended to capture or convey a specific narrative, or even a limited group of narratives, the way the cover for a single anthology might. This was for a selection of stories that would keep growing.
SMT: What was your process like for developing it? Are there particular details you love?
KJ: We discussed and sent sketches back and forth several times. The first thing to do was to come up with those anchor images, to represent facets of the genres represented in The Sunday MorningTransport, without necessarily separating them out. So instead of horror/fantasy/science fiction, it's more gothic/fairytale/forests, metaphor/transport/possibility, adventure/history/fantasy/oceans, space/science/future/clockwork/flight.
Once they were sketched, I started thinking of ways to combine them into one piece: I like my silhouettes to be a continuous piece of paper, if possible. It's preference but also a constraint that shapes and governs choices and gives me something to push back against or spin away from. One was a sort of spray of leaves shifting across the page in a bit of an ornamental curve. That had a sense of lift-off but also perhaps of hierarchy? In the end, we decided on this denser lacework, filling the space and creating a hint of formality, while also keeping a lot of movement going on.
I'm rather fond of the bees! Those and the cogs were two elements that kept showing up in stories.
SMT: The intertwining aspect of the art is pretty cool — can you talk about that a little bit?
KJ: I like intertwining art! It's ornamental and has a narrative sense of movement. Also, it's both a challenge and a real advantage for physical silhouette work: it structures the whole and can be used to support the fine details that glance against it. At the same time, you have to be careful to make it legible. Tangents (those glancing connections) are different in silhouettes than in for example line or painterly work. There, they can be confusing or spatially odd. In silhouettes, they're a chance to make something feel like it's flying without support.
SMT: You do a lot of reflecting on the stories you read (and write) for SMT — can you talk a little about that, and how it relates to your art and design practice as well as your writing?
KJ: I'm doing so many things simultaneously, so last year I decided it would be a great idea to do a giant short story reading project as well. It was focussed on reading short stories through a certain lense (looking for a progression of moods) and then seeing what else that revealed. In order to choose the stories, I worked off a lot of year's best lists, a few books, and all the stories from two journals — Fireside (vale) and the then brand-new Sunday MorningTransport, which was on my radar because I was writing a story for you! It's been exciting to read and think through those stories, especially because often (unlike the best-of lists!) nobody else had yet, so it felt like getting in early behind the scenes. But more than that: a lot of this approach to reading stories was because of the one I was writing for SMT — I wanted it to have a wondrous feeling, and kept hitting other tones (comic, tragic, etc). So I was looking at stories that, to me, felt wondrous, and trying to see how they reached that point. I wrote about that process a little more here: https://tanaudel.wordpress.com/2022/03/14/new-story-out-now-on-the-origins-of-the-population-of-wakeford/. The short story reading post is here: https://tanaudel.wordpress.com/category/short-story-reading-posts/ And my story, "On the Origins of the Population of Wakeford", is on SMT here: https://www.sundaymorningtransport.com/p/on-the-origins-of-the-population
SMT: What do you hope to see from the Sunday Morning Transport in the year to come? What have you loved so far?
KJ: Oh, it's been such a fun ride! All the stories have been great and fascinating, and then occasionally one will just hit me along a particular nerve of wonder or aesthetic or gloriously self-confident oddity. More of those, please! (More of all of them)
It's really neat to see a magazine from the beginning. I love the moment when you start to be able to sense an accent or taste in the gradually accumulating stories — it's different in SMT because there's also this initial curation of authors and then the accrual of authors around them as more names and stories are added. I think there's this train of stories that incoming authors are looking to as guidance. There's a sort of expanding ripple effect, like the rings of a tree or a geode, rather than the sprouting of a seedling.
I'm really interested to see how the body of SMT work continues to emerge and define itself.
SMT: What else are you working on?
KJ: I'm doing a PhD on creative observation — the short story thoughts were developed in the observation journal I'm keeping for that, and I frequently post about techniques and writing/illustration exercises that have emerged from that process: https://tanaudel.wordpress.com/observation-journal/. The book I wrote as part of the PhD should be announced soon, and my first short story collection, Kindling, is coming out from Small Beer Press later this year! https://smallbeerpress.com/forthcoming/2023/03/14/kindling/I'm also usually to be found illustrating books, drawing maps, and making fantastical fairy-tale patterns. I'm on patreon at https://www.patreon.com/tanaudel, I blog at tanaudel.wordpress.com, sell prints at tanaudel.redbubble.com and fabric/wallpaper at https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/tanaudel, and am generally too much online everywhere else, usually under @tanaudel. Oh, and I run a Gothic bot at @girlfleeshouse on Twitter and Tumblr (http://Twitter.com/girlfleeshouse & girlfleeshouse.tumblr.com) and sometimes people make stories and poetry from it, which utterly delights me.
Thank you so much, Kathleen, and to all of you for joining us on this newly beautified (and in the near future filled with swag) part of our journey!
Julian and Fran
Artwork copyright Kathleen Jennings, 2023
Kathleen Jennings is an illustrator and writer based in Brisbane, Australia. Her illustrations have won a World Fantasy Award and been shortlisted for the Hugo Awards. She also created the silhouette illustrations for her Australian Gothic debut Flyaway, which won a British Fantasy Award and was shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award, among others. She has published a poetry chapbook, Travelogues: Vignettes from Trains in Motion, and her short story collection Kindling will be published by Small Beer Press later this year.
Kathleen is such an absolute treasure.