The Inspiration for Nonesuch

The original dream long entry.

The whole idea came from a dream.

I know, it’s kind of underwhelming.
I was wandering around in a dark forest, looking for my husband, Joe. I hugged him and felt relief when I finally found him… But the thing is, when I looked at him, it… wasn’t him. It looked like him, but I knew it wasn’t. I ran away and found myself in an old staged town, full of copies of Joe and me. On a bench, a large woman in a striped shirt and a trench coat invited me to sit next to her. She offered me a clipboard for notes, and informed me that I can’t go home until I find my husband. She helped me narrow down the slight differences between the copies of my husband until I found him. And I woke up.
I immediately and viciously started writing out the elaborated concept from this unsettling and intriguing idea. I tried to make notes of the arrangement of the town, the way it felt like a puppet show, the woman’s very vivid image in my head, the potential things that could happen in this town, various strategies to escape, adding more “what if” and “why” questions to flesh it out. I spent the next month fleshing out the characters and the story, and started posting the canvas version over 2020.

I kept a corel file and started adding sketches and images to it, as I usually do.

The song, “Panic Room” by Au/Ra was the song I had strongly associate with the story, I had heard it the day before and was listening to it on repeat, and I still wonder if it had anything to do with that dream I had the night after I discovered it.

Gathering elements and moods of the setting.

The Town

I got the name from my creative writing class in high school. We were working on world development, and Mr. Haughton gave us a list of all the towns in Kentucky. There’s a lot of really weird ones. But I loved the sound of “Nonesuch.” It was mysterious and it had so much character. It was just so Kentucky. It sounded old and even a bit western. The project I went through I had this world stuck in a sort of time bubble, that this unnamed character passed by it, it “picked” him, and he somehow got stuck in it. The story followed him explored it, trying to figure out how he could leave. He met various characters through it, I used it as a study of how money can bring out the best and worst of people, but for this next project, I felt the name still was so awesome. You can probably see how the concept translated into my clone version of the setting.

The other interesting thing, I always recognized the name “Nonesuch” when Joe and I passed by it on our way back and fourth through Bowling Green and home when we lived in the apartment. Driving those windy, creepy backroads every other weekend, tired out of our minds, trying to stay awake together. It lead me to want to write about an engaged couple, as I had just gotten married, and Joe and I were learning more about each other, fighting a bit more, learning what it means to live out love.

I also considered them being high schoolers, but my editing group said it needed to be an engaged couple, there was more to explore and the stakes are higher that way.


The Characters

I started working out what would eventually be Bridget, Connor, and Shannon. I will go more into detail about Connor, Bridget, and Shannon in their own posts, but the characters never really changed from their roots. Bridget’s arc and struggle was based off myself and Connor’s off my husband. Joe and I were fighting about moving back home with our friends and family, but he was terrified. Having faith to quit his awful job and trust God to help him find a new job and a new house in our town, while his parents were encouraging him to stay in Bowling Green despite how bad it was for us there… was difficult for him. Meanwhile, my struggle over that time involved grappling my vindictive feelings toward my family, trying to forgive myself for the things I did, and trying to learn to trust Joe with those feelings and fears and doubts about myself. Being honest with him about the voices in my head telling me I was things that I wasn’t, fearing he would realize he made a mistake marrying me, were the loudest and hardest parts about living in the apartment at the first conception of the story.
Shannon’s arc… was a more interesting story. I felt like it had to revolve around guilt. It felt only natural that someone who got stuck there would be living with the knowledge that they were stuck there because they killed their partner. (How it was in the canvas version.) So some sort of idea of redemption and forgiveness was bound to be a prominent theme. Eventually, her character settled into one strongly tied with her mother. I was currently in a bad place with my own mom specifically, learning what it means to forgive and be forgiven with her. Reflecting on the events of my wedding and engagement, the things I said that hurt my mom the things she said that hurt me… That would resolve over the course of the canvas version’s development, strongly influenced my understanding of what forgiveness was.


Final Style for Canvas

Their designs made slight variations over the course of development. But none of them really made too many drastic changes. Here is what I came to by the start of the canvas version.