At first glance, one might be misled into believing that internet sensation Candi O’Donnell is another hack who hopped on the Zombie train with her first paperback novel, “Surfacing” Don’t be fooled; even before you crack the spine, the enthusiastic cover quote from Gnosis Magazine is enough to offer unequivocal reassurance that Ms. O’Donnell didn’t win her legions of fans by chronicling the fleeting romantic infatuations of the adolescent undead, but instead chose to pursue a more enigmatic path suffused with history, portents, and thaumaturgy.
This is not my first encounter with Ms. O’Donnell: I had the pleasure of hearing the nascent draft of her text backstage at the Isle of Wight Festival in 2009 when she was cajoled into a spontaneous reading. Unlike the roaring throngs outside, her audience, consisting of myself, a smattering of roadies, journalists, and fashion models, Neil Young — and, ironically, members of the musical group “The Zombies” — were speachless. It proved to be a singular experience, one of those events which everyone claims to have seen and no one can quite remember, including the people who actually were in the room at the time.
Eight months later, the same spun tales witnessed by 50 souls on the Isle of Wight began circulating via a popular website primarily utilized by its loyal core as an imageboard. In a few short weeks, the O’Donnell acolytes evolved, supplying their own photographs to illustrate her words, and providing images for her to feed on. By early 2010, these players, both the author and her readers, had evolved their own world.
So beware … if you choose to read this book, you are a witness to alchemy. Select the young adults you pass it on to wisely. And don’t be surprised, or disappointed if they’ve already heard the word and written the next chapter. Gnosis knows. This is all theirs.
Thanks to Alice and Dinah for the photographs accompanying this piece.