My name is Shane Portman. I am a Los Angeles-based writer. But, my roots are in Northeastern Ohio and I've been very much shaped by my time growing up there. And, thus, I’d like to share an endeavor with you.
The project is called Allister Cromley’s Fairweather Belle (Bedtime Stories For Grownups To Tell). The stories were written to give adults something to read aloud to each other or in quiet to one's own adult self before bed to reignite that feeling of wonder from our childhood. With all the cynicism in the world, a new-found wonder seems necessary.
On November 15th, an illustrated collection of the sepia-tinted tales became available through Amazon.com. Each story was illustrated by a different independent artist, including Northeast Ohioans Dallah Cesen and Cleveland Museum of Art favorites, Annie and A.D. Peters.
Annie Peters had this to say about the project: "After years as a parent reading aloud to my daughter, I wondered why, as we grow older, we lose that intimate connection of reading aloud. That all changed when Shane introduced me to his marvelous character Allister. The clever tales, whether shared aloud or read alone, offer tidbits to ponder, thoughts to conjure, and dreams to weave.”
The stories follow Allister, a mustachioed adventurer/explorer/philosopher/boxer/priest and sometimes globe maker, on his journey through the early 20th century to find the simple answers to the big questions and the complex answers to the small. Living in a time when the romantic ideals of the 19th century were waking to the dreams, realities, and fears of the 20th, Allister is equally fascinated and terrified by technology and the future. He enlists in World War I, witnesses the awe and terror of the first escalator, dances with a bronze statue of Joan of Arc, and even meets Winston Churchill (but not the Winston Churchill you may be thinking of-unless you are thinking of the one that wears a dress and heels).
Originally, the stories began as a blog. But, while living in New York City, I had the good fortune of working with directors like Jess Smith and Scott Illingworth to transform the stories into a live storytelling experience. The stories relied on simple lighting tricks, shadow puppetry, the live music of Spiff Wiegand or Mark August Spitznagel, and an ambient warmth.
And, currently, to promote the book and to branch the stories out farther, a season of 14 additional Allister stories are being released as audio recordings on the book’s website, www.fairweatherbelle.com, as well as through iTunes. The stories, read by me and directed and edited by Sam Rhodes, feature musical compositions by an eclectic mix of artists including Spitznagel, Wiegand, KFJacques, Joe Stile and the Grammy-winning No'a Winter Lazerus. Each will add their own spin to the stories.
For more information on Allister Cromley's Fairweather Belle (Bedtime Stories for Grownups to Tell), please visit www.fairweatherbelle.com. Additional updates and information for Allister may also be found on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.
When I was a child, I remember feeling much like I do now, that the world is full of unanswered questions. But, back then, when I was tucked in tight and read stories, I felt safe and even excited about all of the questions that lay in the dark. And the goal of Allister Cromley’s Fairweather Belle is to get back to that.
Thanks so much for your time.