Pastel and Pen: Travels in Europe is a non-collaborative collaboration between myself (Carol Cram) and Gregg Simpson. I’ve matched a collection of my short pieces—vignettes, flash fiction, short stories, and even a novel excerpt—with pastels that Gregg created during our travels in Europe over a span of twenty years.

The relationship between each writing piece and each pastel is symbiotic. Sometimes, I wrote the piece in direct response to one of Gregg’s pastels. The Birth of Ochre and Lavender are two such pieces. Gregg created these pieces while we were on our first extended family trip to France in 1995, and when I saw them, I felt inspired to respond in writing.

I wrote other pieces in isolation and then matched them with pastels that I felt were complementary. Still others were the result of my actively seeking out connections. I chose Schism, for example, because both its title and the content felt right to pair with a vignette I wrote about my great-grandfather’s grave near the Somme in France.

Pastel and Pen: Travels in Europe celebrates the joy of creation that Gregg and I experience as a direct result of responding to the world in our separate ways—he as a visual artist, me as a writer.

We offer our collection with profound gratitude for having been able to enjoy so many wonderful experiences over the past three decades of our lives together.

Own It Now!