Part of Lissa Bryan’s blog tour for Shadows Have Gone involves writing about her experiences in, well, writing!
I asked her to tell me about finding the haunting images of her dystopian world in present-day America.
So she did.
Two years ago, I went on a journey to take pictures for a book trailer I was going to make for The End of All Things. I ended up traveling a bit around Ohio, West Viginia, and lower Pennsylvania, looking for ghost towns and abandoned buildings to photograph. We also traveled up to Detroit, which was an astonishing adventure in of itself.
I’ve been fascinated with abandoned buildings since I was a child. They fire my imagination. What happened here? Why was this abandoned? Who has used it since? What traces of their story can I discren from the things I find? In some cases, the stories I encountered disturbed me. Right near the Ohio River, I found an abandoned house. All of the windows were gone, but the curtains were still there. They fluttered in the breeze as I walked up. The door yawned open, so I thought I could get some good shots of the interior.
The porch boards had nearly all rotted away so it was a precatious path, and I had to pick my way carefully across. I approached one of the front windows and saw a dirty mattress on the floor. Some clothes were draped from a stick, as though they’d been washed and were drying. I backed away, because it felt like I was invading someone’s private space, and headed over to the front door. I started taking a few pictures, but then I stopped, because I was so creeped out.
A chair sat by the window, beneath those ragged, fluttering curtains. Everything was faded and dirty except for a bright plush toy on the floor, which looked as though it had been dropped only moments before. The filthy carpet was coated with crumbling plaster and other debris, but right on top of it was a pair of child’s jelly shoes, spaced as if the child had vanished in mid-step. It was just so out-of-place, and vaguely sinister, so of course, my imagination was fired by it.
I found an abandoned school on that journey and got some great photos of the interior. That was the same trip where I found the abandoned amusement park. That one had a great story behind it.
There was also a small abandoned “village” a group of condos that had all been abandoned. There was still mail in the boxes, and people’s posessions were scattered on the ground outside. It looked like they’d all been evicted at the same time – perhaps when a factory closed, and simply never returned for the things that had been left behind in their hasty packing. Vandals had come in the meantime with their spraypaint and rocks. But outside, those unwanted things faded in the sun and rain.
I was hoping to get pictures of what the world Carly and Justin would inhabit would look like. A world without people. In some places, nature had started taking over again, giving a sense of life’s renewal and hope. In some places, the ruins told stories of misery and broken dreams. It turned otu to be an amazing journey for many reasons.
Thank you, Lissa!
My readers can find my review for Shadows Have Gone as well as information on her other work here.