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Hopeless, Maine – Interview with Tom & Nimue Brown


Tom and Nimue Brown, 2017.jpg

Awake at Midnight:
How does a Hopeless, Maine story develop? What is the interaction like between the writing and the art as they evolve in tandem?

Tom & Nimue Brown:
There has always been cross-fertilization between the writing and the art. In fact, for the first book, I did the cover before Nimue wrote the story, so the story incorporated elements from the art. We play ideas back and forth between ourselves all of the time. Some of these end up being part of the stories. (Others get saved for later, or end up being the start of something else entirely.)


Nimue, you have written a series of books on Pagan spiritualism. What kind of crossover do you see in your Hopeless stories?

There is no single character in Hopeless, Maine who represents my spiritual views, but the reality of Hopeless is animist. Anything can turn out to have opinions. It is an enspirited landscape.


Pagan Dreaming by Nimue Brown

You’ve said that some of the influences on your writing are Charles De Lint & Robert Holdstock. With their strong mythological overtones, I note that Hopeless has instead a distinctly Lovecraftian flavour. Will that continue, or will the story branch out to encompass an appearance of say, The Wild Hunt or Anansi?

Interesting that you should say that! The Wild hunt has been reborn as The Mild hunt in a recent Hopeless, Vendetta (written by Nimue’s father- Martin Pearson, as it happens). We do draw on wider folklore traditions but it is our warmer and more generous approach to the characters and creatures that brings us closer to Holdstock and De Lint. (Mr. De Lint has expressed a fondness for Hopeless, Maine in fact!) Even though our decaying New England setting and tentacles may be sharing subject matter with the well known Weird Tales author, our tone distinguishes us, I think.


How much of the story is already written? Is there a fixed end to Hopeless, Maine?

There is a fixed end to this series, yes. It has all been written. Nimue is contemplating a different tale in the same setting in the future, though.


Hopeless, Maine: Sinners

Hopeless Maine: Sinners   (Book 3)

Owen returns from his trip, tight-lipped, but without a plan for changing Hopeless. He finds the town in the middle of an epidemic of Consumption, and the townsfolk are blaming vampires. Owen is skeptical, but Miss Calder warns him they are real. Because he is now “special,” being the only person ever to have successfully left, (much less returned,) to Hopeless, people turn to him for help.

Tom, your earth tone watercolors seems to carry the dreary loneliness of Hopeless, Maine to a tangible form. Is that a purposefully chosen emotive medium? Do you work in other artistic media?

Actually, when we started HM, I was rather afraid of colour. (This may not be an unrelated issue.) My confidence grew as the series progressed. Nimue does the colouring now (though you will not see the results till future issues are released, unless you follow us on social media). The colours you have seen in print are a combination of watercolour and digital. Laying a tone over the whole thing and picking out highlights adds to the atmosphere, I think. We are just now starting to work in three dimensions for an upcoming gallery show. I’ve made a spoonwalker and some of the other fauna of the island for this, and Nimue and I are making some of the sort of household items you might find on the Island.


Intelligent Design for Amateurs by Nimue Brown

Is it true you were born in the state of Maine? How did you end up in the UK, and how do the misty memories of childhood inform Hopeless?

I was indeed born in Camden, Maine. (On the coast.) I ended up in the UK because I came here to marry Nimue! Maine has… an atmosphere I suppose you would call it. It is still what I draw on for Hopeless (and much of my other work).


Hopeless, Maine: The Gathering

Do you have plans for any written prose books set in Hopeless? If so, who will they be written by, and how do they fit into the story line we see in The Gathering?

Yes indeed! There are two already written– New England Gothic and Semblance of Truth. Our publisher, Sloth Comics, will be publishing them. New England Gothic will (all being well) be out this year, (lavishly illustrated). Nimue has written both of these. New England Gothic is set before the events in The Gathering, and Semblance of Truth concurrent with the events in the graphic novel.


How did the Hopeless, Maine graphic novels evolve out of newsletter? How did the newsletter itself get started?

We started the newsletter while we were waiting for the webcomic to be set up. It was not originally written to be a coherent narrative. It has now turned into a (dark) playground for us and the Hopeless, Maine creative community.


The Hopeless Vendetta

Music!   I understand there is a soundtrack to Hopeless, Maine! Was that created by a fan?

Yes! Well, actually, I Met Johnny Benson at the Steampunk Worlds Fair back before we were published, and told him about my wish for a soundtrack. He was taken with the idea and ended up doing an entire soundtrack to the first tale (Personal Demons) He captured the atmosphere of the tales with uncanny skill and focused on elements that would translate to music. We’re really quite a bit in awe. It is called (oddly enough) Utterly Hopeless.

Also, One of our favorite bands in the world, Walter Sickert and The Army of Broken Toys has done a Hopeless, Maine track which still gives us goosebumps.


What does Professor Elemental have to do with the music of Hopeless?

As it happens, he has just recently recorded a track called Hopeless, Maine which will be released soon! We have been working with him on other projects for some years now, and have very much wanted this to happen, so it’s a bit of dream come true.


Letters Between Gentlemen

I learned from the Druid Life blog that there is a Hopeless role-playing game on the way? Can you tell us more?

Yes! Keith Healing is creating it as we speak. As of last week, it looks as though we have a publisher for it too. It will be very much in the spirit of the books and designed so that people who are new to role-playing will not find it daunting. You can read what Keith has to say about it and follow his progress here: https://hopelesstraveller.wordpress.com/

And there is going to be a web comic as well? The only thing you are lacking is a tarot card deck!

We are also in the early stages of working on a Hopeless, Maine Tarot, and several other things. Our tentacles are spreading!


Charles De Lint quote

Many thanks to both Tom and Nimue Brown. We can’t wait for the next book to be released!

Related Posts:

Hopeless, Maine: Personal Demons
Hopeless, Maine: Inheritance



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