First cover from Noir Nation photo shoot

This is the first cover to result from the recent Noir Nation photo shoot at the Kettle of Fish, home of the famous Jack Kerouac bar sign. The models on the cover are film actors Thomas Wesson and Dasha Kittredge.

In Awake Now, Sailor, noirishly poetic seafaring novel, Cass Loyola, a merchant seaman, abandons the ocean seas to pursue literature and love at a button-down college in New York City. As he struggles to adjust to his new life, he is haunted by the woman he left behind in Cardiff—a bookbinder and practicing witch.

At once a seafaring novel, a Cuban novel, and Catholic novel, given its reliance on Thomas Aquinas and Teresa of Ávila to understand the changing cosmos of daily life, Awake Now, Sailor includes pirate fights in the Bay of Bengal, gypsy cab rides into the dark heart of Brooklyn, a drunken mountain climb in Wales, cane cutting in Oriente de Cuba, an encounter between a U.S. Marine and an academic poet, and a smashed guitar in a Havana radio station that ends a musical career.

The book also offers décima campesinas, a poetic form popular in Cuba, and an original sea shanty translated into Welsh by British poet Menna Elfyn.

Noir Nation’s first photo shoot

Thomas Wesson, Dasha Kittredge, and Alex Geana (Photo by Eddie Vega)

Some images of our first photo shoot to create original cover art for Noir Nation Books and its sister imprints Bare Knuckles Press, Hearts Diary, and Converse Books. Actors Thomas Wesson and Dasha Kittredge joined Bare Knuckles Press’ art director, Alex Geana, and Noir Nation editor Eddie Vega at The Kettle of Fish in Greenwich Village, home of the famous Jack Kerouac bar sign.

Dasha Kittredge (Photo by Eddie Vega)

Pat, the bar’s owner, regaled us with stories of the Beat writers who frequented the place. Gregory Corso, a key member of the group, was a regular there until his very last days. A photo of Corso taken by Allen Ginsberg hangs on the wall facing the bar sign. The shoot resulted in many images for covers that are in the editorial pipeline and some for books that are yet be written.

Dasha and Tom proved able to play a number of roles — from pulpy noir bar patrons to a 1930s couple brought together by a matchmaker.

And Alex showed himself a versatile and creative photographer. He improvised a number of scenes that were breathtaking in scope. Dead bodies spread out on the wooden floor, glamor poses by the open door, silhouetted against a bright street.

This shoot was a milestone in the aesthetic development of the publications associated with VegaWire, formally eVega Online Media. From the very beginning, VegaWire wanted to realize W.B. Yeats’ vision of a “marriage of the arts” while still appealing to a mass audience.

Thomas Wesson as Cass Loyola, central character of ‘Awake Now, Sailor’ published by Bare Knuckles Press (Photo by Eddie Vega)

Noir Nation No. 1 was its first effort to bring together the literary and visual arts. It included contemporary crime fiction, personal essays, a poem by Bonnie Parker of Bonnie & Clyde fame, a group of abstract paintings by Hamlet Zurita, and a Flamenco/Crime graphic novel illustrated by Danda, a Czech graffiti artist, and written by Jon Danko.

Noir Nation No. 2 will expand to include the work of tattoo artists. In the meantime, the novels we publish under the Noir Nation Books, Bare Knuckles Press, and other imprints will show the same dedication to visual appeal as our signature magazine.

Dasha Kittredge as Morgen, the Wiccan Witch that Cass falls in love with in the novel ‘Awake Now Sailor’ (Photo by Eddie Vega)

After we finished up the shoot at The Kettle of Fish, we went across the street to Christopher Park and shot images for A Suitable Husband by SB Lerner, which will be coming out soon under the Hearts Diary imprint. Hearts Diary publishes interpretive romance novels and works of nonfiction that have a strong romantic flavor. We hope to add many titles over the coming months. Readers will be seeing much more of Tom and Dasha.

Paul D. Brazill interviews Noir Nation editor Eddie Vega


Famed crime writer Paul D. Brazill interviews Noir Nation editor Eddie Vega. How is David Goodis connected to Yeats, Lorca, Allen Ginsberg and Cort McMeel? Find out in this tell-all interview.