Aug 25, 2010

An Interview With Lorin Morgan-Richards

Lorin Morgan-Richards is a composer, author, illustrator and purveyor of finely crafted dark humor handmade books. He is a direct descendant of Welsh American poet Robert Dennison Morgan. Lorin will be appearing at our booth at Wordstock on October 9th- 10th. He will be presenting a limited edition print of 'The Goodbye Family in Wales' to the first 100 visitors to the AmeriCymru table on both days. Be sure to arrive early! The location of our booth can be found here ( booth 620 ) and samples of Lorin's work can be found in the slideshow at the bottom of this page.

AmeriCymru: Your latest book is titled 'A Boy Born From Mold'. Care to give our readers an idea of what they will find between its covers?

Lorin:  Diolch Ceri for allowing me the opportunity for this interview and giving me a chance to share my passion. 'A Boy Born from Mold and Other Delectable Morsels' is my second published book through my small press, A Raven Above Press, which encompasses dark humor short stories with pen and ink illustration. Readers often call my books 'Gothic Fairytales' because they are reminiscent of Victorian Era moral stories.

'A Boy Born from Mold', my title story, reveals a mysterious boy named 'Rune' who lives in a basement, after having been hatched from an old forgotten family quilt. His neighbor upstairs is a lost little girl who seeks knowledge about her family's heritage. The two intersect and the story unravels so to speak.

I find it interesting the symbolism and metaphors that readers pull from this story. Some have thought of it as giving insight into some sort of Pagan beliefs. One commented it was a metaphor for the Celtic Tree of Life. The little girl upstairs represents an above plane while 'Rune' resides in the below or Otherworld, and the remaining between provides the journey towards consciousness of spirit and self interconnected. I will not say if these are accurate or intentional in any way, but obviously, the story itself was meant to fascinate adults as well as children, and like one reviewer mentioned, this story is fundamentally about finding oneself. 'A Boy Born from Mold' is just one of seven delectable morsels in the book. 

AmeriCymru: You have an interesting, perhaps unique, method of publishing your work.Can you give us a brief idea of the process by which you individually handcraft each volume and the materials you use?

Lorin:  In making 'A Boy Born from Mold and Other Delectable Morsels', I begin by gathering tools and my materials. After this, I use an Epson printer to make two sided booksheets. Both the booksheets along with the endsheets are folded into fourths and are cut to size. I then measure out and paste down cotton cloth and hinges to the first and last signatures. One by one I sew the signatures together using Irish linen thread, and these are knotted and glued. After I glue the spine, I attach a ribbon and let it dry. I then begin constructing the hardcover case. Last steps are adding the title to the spine with my foil stamp machine, gluing the pages to the case and pressing each book for several hours. Each book is signed and limited in edition to 400 copies. The bookbinding process is hard to measure in time, but once the pages are printed it takes a little over an hour for each book. Interestingly, the sewing is both the most time consuming and therapeutic part of my bookbinding. 

AmeriCymru: Is there any significance in making them limited edition?

Lorin:  In the ancient tradition of making things by hand, each book is interconnected with the author and thus has its own life principles. To further emphasize this, I made each part of a limited edition of 400 copies. However I won’t delve into the significance of the number 400.

AmeriCymru: On your website we learn that you are of Welsh and Amish ancestry. How did you become aware of your Welsh ancestry? Does it influence your work in any way? 

Lorin:  I believe dreams connect us to our ancestors and it is through creativity that we can tap into this in the conscious state. Creativity is a sort of trance that we have as artists that erases time and space. My mother's side, the Morgan family, is originally from Wales. I began questioning my identity pretty early on, but didn't understand or learn about it until I was in college when records and books became more readily available. By this time, unfortunately, my grandparents had also all passed. From here, I became heavily involved in genealogy and found in the US Census reports my direct ancestor 'John Morgan' as being born in Wales. Last year, I visited Cardiff and did more research, but found that the commonality of the name 'John Morgan' was equivalent to 'John Smith'. So my research continues. But in the meantime, I've begun taking steps to reconnect by learning Welsh and will be incorporating even more of the culture into my writing and illustrating.

AmeriCymru: You are currently working on several written projects with a Welsh linguist in Swansea. Care to tell us more?

Lorin:  In the fall, I will be releasing an audiobook of 'A Boy Born from Mold' with narration by Welsh linguist Jason Shepherd. I met Jason through 'The Learn Welsh Podcast', an informative podcast that he created and hosts every week. I am very lucky to have his talents for this project. His voice is simply stellar and his readings add a lot of charismatic dimension to the stories.

AmeriCymru: Do you see yourself as primarily any particular type of artist - painter,musician or writer?~ Do you have a favorite medium to work in and if so, what is it about that medium?
Lorin:  I am most comfortable with writing and pen and ink illustrations. My filter tends to be cut ups of what is around me blurred into my own feelings and interests of the Victorian era. I don't try to categorize myself but I do recognize my influences are a bit more macabre than usual.

AmeriCymru: What is next for Lorin Morgan-Richards? Do you have any new works in the pipeline? 

Lorin:  On September 12th, just in time for Grandparents Day, A Raven Above Press will be releasing a book entitled '13 Disturbing Postcards to Send to Your Grandparents'. This book is a lighthearted take on the mushy postcards kids send to their grandparents. I personally had terrific grandparents, but I thought it might be funny to create a book that is polar opposite to the postcards available today. I will also be releasing a miniature illustrated alphabet book that I will have finished by Halloween entitled 'The Terribly Mini Monster Book’.

AmeriCymru: Any final message for the members and readers of AmeriCymru?

Lorin:  Thanks for the appreciation and I hope that I am able to meet some of you at Wordstock in Portland! Hwyl fawr am nawr!

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