Grieving Author Shares Touching Birthday Tribute to His Late Partner/Co-Author

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — On New Year’s Eve 2020, Erin Camille Jackson and Aaron A. A. Smith were cautiously optimistic about the future. And why not? They were a vibrant young pair of artists sharing a loving home, who had just finished their debut literary short fiction collection, When a Lobster Whistles on Top of a Mountain the Ballerinas Will Dance. The year ahead offered the promise of a bright new beginning. Instead, it brought a tragic ending to their life together. Barely three months later, Jackson was dead and Smith was lost in grief and despair. He had no idea what to do with his life, or with the manuscript he and Jackson had written. A year passed. Then a sudden jolt of urgency struck Smith.

"All at once, I felt this overwhelming compulsion. And I knew I had to get our book out into the world. Erin and I had worked too hard on it and had put too much of ourselves into it for me to leave it buried in our computer forever. And I had to get it done by her birthday in September. I wanted to give her that gift."

But Smith faced some daunting obstacles.

"From an emotional standpoint, it was very painful going through Erin’s work. Sometimes it was too much and I just couldn’t. But I had to. And from a practical standpoint, I had basically no budget, so I had to do the whole thing myself—design, formatting, the whole thing. The interior, the cover, fonts. And I’m a complete luddite. But ultimately, I got it done the way we wanted. I had to put in a lot of work. I didn’t eat or sleep much for a few weeks, but I did my final part. Erin had already done the rest. She wasn’t just an exceptional writer, she was also an exceptional artist. The book became a part of our own floating wonderland world, and Erin left behind some beautiful artwork from that world. I incorporated that artwork into the book in the form of interior illustrations, and I used a detailed drawing of a lobster she had made as the cover image. I chose that picture for two reasons: first because it’s stunning. Second, because Erin’s story "Lobsters" and my story "The Ballerina and the Music Box" were the first stories upon which this collection was built. We worked in a lot of different genres in the book—noir, existential absurdism, Kafkaesque fairytales, Southern Gothic, poetry, baseball elegies—but those two stories were the originals and were emblematic of the main themes of the book: oddball absurdist humor and the bittersweet nostalgia surrounding the ephemeral nature of life and beauty. It’s a cruel irony that our life together turned out to be so ephemeral itself. We had a long and wonderful future planned. But that future is gone. All that’s left is the painful, ephemeral beauty of the past, and the book we wrote together will always be a part of that."

The paperback edition of When a Lobster Whistles on Top of a Mountain the Ballerinas Will Dance is now available on The Kindle edition is available for preorder, and will be downloadable on September 15th, Erin Camille Jackson’s birthday. 

Aaron Smith

SOURCE Aaron A. A. Smith