Cult photographer Neil Krug adds his eye for visual storytelling to acclaimed author Jardine Libaire’s new novella, The GoldTwinz, to create something truly stunning. In their first collaboration, Krug, known for his work on album covers for the likes of Tame Impala and Lana Del Ray, brings Libaire’s “sunshine noir” story to life. Here, Libaire takes some time to tell WWAC about The GoldTwinz and seeing the chemistry created by those visuals take shape.
“The GoldTwinz is a psychedelic Florida story, buried deep in the wilderness of that hot and sticky state. Meet Marc and Yvette: two foster kids who were found as babies in the Everglades. Twenty years later, these anarchist “twins” are reunited after Marc’s prison term. Together they’re determined to get Yvette performing on stage (she’s a self-taught soul singer with paralyzing stage fright), while getting Marc the rec center for lost kids he’s always wanted to build. But first? They have to destroy his childhood abuser and get her out of a sex-cam “lullaby” contract she made to support herself and send money to Marc’s commissary.
“Are they twins? Or are they lovers? They want to know their background, but they’re afraid to know for sure, because if they’re definitely related, they can’t be in love. So the GoldTwinz live without context, except the one they create.”
What was the inspiration for this story and how long has it been with you? Has it evolved a lot since the ideas first started to form in your head?
It started as a constellation of obsessions: the idea of an avant-garde, self-taught torch singer; the almost ridiculous challenge of recreating Jean Cocteau’s Les Enfants Terribles in the Everglades; exploring the notion of anarchy as people organizing themselves in concert with nature and their own conscience and family; and wanting to poke around at the trope called Sunshine Noir. It definitely evolved: Yvette became more and more driven to be an artist, the Ring of villains became more complex, and there’s even a new character (who I love) generated by Neil’s shoots. But I also changed course in starting out a bit more bleak and grim, and losing my appetite for that during the difficult pandemic era, and focusing on how to find the humanity and tenderness in these characters. Alongside the grit and darkness–some genuine light.
This is your second literary and photography collaboration. What do you enjoy most about this type of collaborative storytelling?
This Goldtwinz collaboration is, in literal terms, a written story and a series of photographs, and the outcome of chemistry between them. But it’s also a project made with the energy or spirit of a (nonexistent) film. When Neil created the movie posters, in fact, it felt so right since there is the phantom of a film that lives in between the novelette and the photographs. I just love that, it fuels the story. Writing can honestly be a bit lonely, too, and to have another vision in there, adding dimensions, tweaking things, and creating new possibilities, is thrilling. This collaboration wasn’t about illustrating the story but about telling the story alongside the text in a fundamentally different language.
What do you hope readers will take away from your story?
I hope it’s an old-fashioned page-turner for starters! I also hope it’s a fresh exploration of rural America, in this case, the Everglades. A place where the wilderness has been manipulated and pummeled by human beings for decades, but it won’t relent. The land is still queen. Lastly, the character of Yvette and how she comes into her art and her talent is a process inspired by the greats, from Etta James to Lady Gaga to Sade to Rosalia. I hope it’s a good ride to watch a girl become a star in the true sense of the word.
The GoldTwinz is available today from NeoText and you can read an excerpt of it over at CrimeReads. Better yet, get into would-be musician Yvette’s head with this Spotify playlist put together by the author to chart Yvette’s musical influences, embodying the electrifying tone of the novella.