The book was supposed to be launched in March 2014 but as its creator Venus De Mileage says, “I was abducted by my own life so it didn’t happen quite as planned and I missed my self-imposed deadline by a million miles. But, people kept asking me when The Neverwas was coming so, in place of the actual book, which will materialise soon, I promise, I decided to deliver bits of The Neverwas piecemeal. I shared some of the stories, poems and illustrations on Twitter and then took the advice of a friend and starting offering limited edition signed prints of the artwork and poems on Etsy, which I send out personally - I think the personal touch is important. Then it occurred to me that there is more than one way to tell a story, and The Neverwas seems always to want to tell itself in its own peculiar way, so I looked at the idea of making my work accessible in many forms and to anyone, no matter what their budget. I designed printable DIY miniature books, available as instant digital downloads on Etsy. The brilliant thing about technology is that it allows us to embrace traditional things like making your own miniature book, and all you need is 99p, a couple of sheets of paper, and a spare half an hour. I then did the same with the little house from The Neverwas, that’s also available as a printable download, you make it yourself. Quite by accident, as most things Neverwassian are, the little books mentioned previously fit perfectly inside the house!”
The Neverwas, when it actually is in book form will come in three parts. The much awaited The Neverwas, Neverwas Again, and The Neverwasn’t. People might think that Elspeth Neverwas, the little girl from whom the trilogy’s titles derive, features in all three books, but she doesn’t. She doesn’t feature in any of them.
“I drew Elspeth years ago and thought I’d like to write about her. I always knew her story would begin: Once not upon a time, there wasn’t a little girl… ” says Venus. “When it came to writing and illustrating the first book I realised that Elspeth wasn’t in any of the stories! I felt more as if she were outside of the book looking in, with me, and in effect, with the reader. She’s not an imaginary friend. What seems to be the case here is that the people in The Neverwas are imagined by her. Although she’s not in the book, she is ever present – readers will find her name scribbled on the pages, and denials of her ever having been there in graffiti that reads “Elspeth Neverwas was not here”. Is Elspeth me? Probably. I used to scribble in books when I was a child, I think because I wanted to feel what it would be like to write one.”
To date, Sidelong Lance, a dead haberdasher who likes to describe himself as a ‘stylishly deceased elegantine’ is the most popular Neverwas character. Prints of him in his stovepipe hat hang upon fans’ walls and one devotee has had him tattooed on his arm.
The book is due for release at some point before Christmas, or is it?
Venus De Mileage is @VenusDeMileage on Twitter
Things Neverwassian are available from Venus’s Etsy shop The Hallucinarium here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TheHallucinarium?ref=hdr_shop_menu
Obscuriosity Press publishes beautifully obscure books.