It Takes a Village

JANUARY 29, 2020


My wife, the nonpareil multimedia artist Jill Littlewood, while appreciating my blog suggested I spend some time appreciating it too – and in particular appreciating all the incredible people who have bestowed their gifts to make it all come together. She suggested this might be a good moment of cultural examination and personal reflection, as well – about the self-injury men inflict. But she wasn’t talking about war. She was talking about the tendency of men’s default stance of going solo, of claiming the success of our self-made accomplishments – not unjustly – while yet missing the sense of connectedness that women more commonly bring to their projects and their lives. The relationships and interdependences that are the glue of not just family and community, but art, and life.

And of course the solo stance can lead to a world of psychological collateral damage, as well. Because if you single-handedly take credit for the successes, you have to single-handedly take responsibility for the failures, too. And while there can be some merit even in that, it’s so much more tender to share it all. So even if some failure does belong entirely to you, you have a wealth of comrades, friends, champions, mentors, counselors, family and cohorts who have your back. Help you up again. That is a wealth, indeed.

So I’d like to acknowledge everyone who had a hand in putting this blog together, around the even bigger undertaking of the book and the CD – and a deeply grateful tip of the hat to their contributions.

First there’s the James Kahn logo at the top of the blog. Jill did that. She is an accomplished calligrapher, among her other many talents, and she invented and penned the font that made the J and the K. Jill also did the maps for the novel, like this one.

In other posts I’ve already lauded Bart Bus, who did the banner illustration, as well as a number of others, for the blog, the book, and the CD – and I pause to look at this painting again every time I go to the blogsite.

Max Uncu is the webmaster who actually put the blog together, designing the layout and building the page.

I found Max through Melissa Burch, who initiated the campaign to get my book out into the world, my literary midwife.

Moving down the page, Madison Lux designed the beautiful book cover, and Annie Gallup designed the CD package. And what a cool CD package. Not just Bart’s paintings, but lyrics to all the songs, and photos of period artifacts relevant to each song.

Invaluable assistance has come from media guru Jeanette Lundgren, marketing visionary Greg Lee; multi-instrumentalist David West, who produced the CD; Gene Ringgold, who told the stories that inspired the novel; the Brownsville Historical Association, who gave me access to all those primary sources, the journals, diaries, letters, private biographies, maps, newspaper microfiches and inspirational artifacts that gave the book its authenticity; my mom, who taught me how to be a writer, artist, and singer; and my dad, who taught me how to be diligent, and finish all my projects.

Creating anything is a scary process. You go out on a limb, you expose yourself to all the slings and arrows or outrageous fortune that then release all your inner demons and self-critics. But all that rocky landscape is ameliorated if you go into creative battle with a posse.

So… thanks, team.

2 thoughts on “It Takes a Village”

  1. Jim, since I’m not an avid FB junkie (like my wife), I often miss some wonderful posts and requests to “like a page”. When I saw your name and the request to like “Matamoros” (both the book and the music), I just had to do some additional research. Upon reading the synopsis on Amazon, I will definitely order a copy of each! Since I am keenly interested in both historical fiction and non-fiction, particularly the Civil War (I’ve read “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara twice), the Revolution, and the Plains “Indians,” I can’t wait to read your book! Congratulations on an amazing body of work!

    1. Thanks, Al. I’ve also always been interested in the Civil War (loved The Killer Angels), and I’ve been thinking about writing this book for 30 years. Then I researched it for 4 or 5 years, including trips down to Brownsville to look at original diaries and such. So it’s been a long road, but really satisfying. Thanks for getting the book and CD, hope you like what you get!

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