It is impossible to list the number of art projects and major and minor life events that landed J.M. Raymond in the clandestine moment, where a somewhat witchy woman flew out of the broom closet and completely off the rails after a near-death experience that lasted seven days.
A more romanticized version of her story would be to say that she arrived home from the hospital ready to live life to its fullest and execute the only idea she’d been able to hold onto while the pain tore at her. A promise that she’d finally finish the book she’d always dreamed of if just given another chance, if the pain would just stop.
Yeah, it didn’t work out like that.
Pain like that doesn’t leave room for thinking. It is dark, it is hollow, and it is empty of everything but the sound of your own screaming.
And then suddenly it stopped. Lessened really, but alive and capable of some thought was more the thing. But the hollowness never left her, it hitched a ride on her soul like a shitty souvenir, charmed to return her demeanor to a state of darkened emptiness as often as possible.
And one particularly dark, hollow, day there was just enough of J.M. left to remember her bag of tricks, the one that had helped her survive this tragedy and that, in this ridiculously wonderful and ridiculously awful life of hers, and in it, she saw a twinkle.
Hand to Hecate, something twinkled, something deep, deep, down. And if she squinted just right and closed one eye, she could see it become clearer and closer until it floated light and charming like a feather to lightly tickle at JM’s bilateral hippocampus.
And though it, whimsy, that is to say, had always been with her, she had never, ever thought it would be the meat and bones of her. The only thing left when all else seemed to be gone—her very essence.
Funny little word whimsy, for J.M. it held the power of a lifetime in the silly little sound it made when she first exhaled it on a broken breath, into a word, that formed more words, that arranged themselves neatly into piles of paragraphs, that breathed life to creatures in dimensions far, far away, all full to brimming with it, because of it, the last trick in a magic bag.
But there was a caveat as is always the way of things where whimsical things are concerned. In order to activate the whimsy necessary to breathe away the hollow, empty darkness, it must be shared. And though it is one thing to write like no one is watching, it is another thing entirely to bare your ass in hopes that others might find comfort in it.
But that is what’s been done, and this is where J.M. Raymond stands, bare-assed and whimsical for the whole world to see.
J.M. also would like you to know that she has the most amazing safety net in her tiny world, which selflessly helps her to continually heal. Her husband of twenty years, Matt Houser, her two sons Aidan and Jace, her mother JoAnn, and her grumble of pugs, Lollie, RueRue, and TukTuk.
J.M. Raymond received her Bachelor of Arts from Fontbonne University in 1995, where she fell in love with everything in St. Louis-and under it.
Coming December 2023
Morna JoAnn Stahr had become the town pariah at age ten. Beyond her control or planning, she managed to pull a religious miracle from the bowels of holy stardom, and try as she may, absolution had never come. Sure, some things can be forgotten or outlived, but not this kind of thing, especially if you’re a girl. Just ask Mary of Magdalene.
So while every Priest, parishioner, and parent, including her own, held a candlelight vigil for her safe return, Morna had been busy doing what seventeen-year-old lepers do best. Gathering up what was left of the best pieces of herself and got the hell outta dodge with not a soul the wiser. No soul’s but Silla’s that is, who by all accounts would forever be included among the very best parts of her.
Now, one accomplice, a fake i.d. and many miles later, Morna was slinging drinks at a local blues bar for tips. New me, who dis, right? WRONG. Because just beneath Morna’s newfound feet was a rag-tag horde of mythical beasties and one giant Judas furball of epic Galilean proportions. And while they enjoyed it, they were not here for the music.
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