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My first journey into gift certificate land, made with love for the girl I used to write stories with . . .
Her many magical offerings can be found at

Another month of deep retreat in the north woods, unearthing old legal and historical documents
on the land, writing a new fall essay for Portage, and dreaming in porcupine . . .

Documentation of "Porcupine Box" process for Round Table Postal-Collage Project No. 7. Final collage will be
exhibited in Berkeley with additions by Erin Wilson, Sydney Cohen, Marco Lean, and Joyce Nojima, Spring 2018.

Susannah Patrice Morse at VSC. Photo by H Romero.
Susannah Patrice Morse at VSC. Photo by H Romero.

Residency at the Vermont Studio Center, where I worked on new illustrations for The Painter and the Birdand a full draft binding of The River Witch.


So many thanks to my fellow residents, the generous visiting writers and artists, VSC staff, and the Swan Fellowship for offering all the right kinds inspiration at just the right time.

Photograph of roots, Duncan's Cove, Nova Scotia. Photograph of frozen sea, Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island.
Roots, Duncan's Cove, Nova Scotia. Frozen sea, Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island.

In Nova Scotia for six weeks—exploring the land and its lifeforms, reading, re-envisioning Gramarye, and writing curriculum lessons on art and activism for Regarding Susan Sontag.


Waiting for the Snow #1 Cabin Correspondence 9/27/16 Waiting for the Snow #2
Waiting for the Snow #1, Cabin Correspondence 09/27/16, Waiting for the Snow #2, gouache on paper, 6" x 6"

Portage Lake, Minnesota, where I spent four months walking the land, researching local histories, writing, and painting from the small cabin my great-grandfather built in the early 1930s. In addition to continued drafting of The Painter and the Bird and a curriculum guide for Regarding Susan Sontag (coming soon), I documented my time in a painted essay, "Waiting for the Snow," and began work on a new novella. Of course, I stayed longer than intended—furiously writing and packing in a post-election haze, with just enough wood chopped to stay warm—until a late November blizzard threatened to snow me in.

APRIL 2016

Ink painting for THE RIVER WITCH
Illustration for "The River Witch," ink on paper, 11" x 14"

Headlands Center for the Arts
Sunday, April 17

Open Studio: 12-5 pm
Building 960, Studio 5/6

Reading: 3-4 pm
Building 944
, Eastwing

My studio is full of new ink paintings, charcoal pencil drawings, and handbound manuscript drafts. Come visit! Or stop by to hear excerpts from my illustrated novella The Painter and the Bird and the "Light Journal" I kept while drafting it.


From my winter studio, a peek at the opening snows of Gramarye and the forest where The Dark Is Rising began. Like any imaginative journey, it unfolds in its own time . . . So dim the lights, take a breath, and follow Susan Cooper through the trees:

"One snowy day I was cross-country skiing with my husband in Massachusetts, where we live. . . . tramping along in silence, looking at the snowdrifts, seeing small trees sticking up out of the snow and thinking they looked like the antlers of deerand then for no good reason at all, I suddenly knew that I was going to write a book, set for the most part in thick snow like this, about a small boy who woke up one birthday morning and found he was able to work magic." Susan Cooper, Newbery Acceptance, 1976


The Center for Independent Documentary has agreed to be a fiscal sponsor and producing partner of Gramarye. Thanks CID!


Fall Open House! I'll be opening my studio at Headlands
for the day, reading an excerpt from The Painter and the Bird
and screening a work-in-progress scene from Gramarye.

Drawing for THE PAINTER AND THE BIRD. Photograph by Andria Lo.
Illustration for The Painter and the Bird. Photograph by Andria Lo.



12 - 5pm
Open Studio
Building 960
Studio 5/6

1 - 1:45pm
The Painter and the Bird
Building 944

3:30 - 4pm
Gramarye (scene)
Building 944
Rodeo Room

JULY 2015

My new studio as an Affiliate Artist at Headlands Center for the Arts! I will be writing, drawing and binding a draft manuscript of Put Your Heart In Water here for the next year, as well as editing Gramarye. Looking forward to long walks along the Pacific, inspiring time with all the other artists, and working from this dreamy attic window!

Summer Open House is Sunday, July 26 from 12 to 5pm. I will be taking part in the group reading at 1:15pm and in my studio for the rest of the afternoon (Building 960, Studio 5/6). Please come!

JUNE 2015

To all the librarians, publishers, museum directors, teachers, children's literature scholars, and fantasy enthusiasts I may have missed at the American Library Association Annual Conference . . . please be in touch! I'm starting to plan tour events and screenings of Gramarye across the UK and North America, a traveling exhibit of related books and materials, an educational website and a curriculum guide. Would love to come visit your library or classroom, or partner on an event!

Poster for GRAMARYE Synopsis of GRAMARYE

Also! what a pleasure it was to meet Roger Sutton of The Horn Book, Brian Selznick, Patrick Ness, Jacqueline Woodson, Anthony Doerr (and the list goes on) while wandering the aisles . . .

MAY 2015

After two months of solitude in the mountains of Taos, I have emerged with a "Light Journal" of my time, a revised draft of "The River Witch," new writing and drawings for The Painter and the Bird, all 16mm film rolls from Gramarye transferred to 2K, and a well of inspiration from my adventures through ancestral puebloan archaeology, the landscapes of Agnes Martin and Georgia O'Keeffe, and the stunning red deserts and painted canyons of my drive home.


Officially certified in core bookbinding by Juliayn Coleman at the San Francisco Center for the Book. Very excited to begin experimenting with the right materials and bindings for my own work!


A spontaneous, post-blizzard pilgrimage found me filming this deep forest snow in Winchester, Massachusetts, near the cross-country ski trails where Susan Cooper first imagined The Dark Is Rising—the first scene I ever envisioned for Gramarye and the last significant round of filming. Many thanks to my sister Heidi Morse for dropping everything and flying out to join me on this bitterly cold and rather elusive cross-country skiing shadow-dance . . .


Regarding Susan Sontag is coming to HBO, HBO Go and On Demand Monday, December 8 at 9/8pm central, after screening at more than 75 festivals across 30 countries since April, with an Honorable Mention at Frameline and Special Jury Mentions at MIX Copenhagen and Tribeca.

Download our Viewer's Guide from for background information about Susan Sontag, a statement from director Nancy Kates, tips on how to host a screening, discussion questions, and additional resources.


Trailer / Facebook / Twitter / HBO


After an incredible six weeks in the northern woods of Minnesota, the final filming of books and light for Gramarye, which I began last year at MacDowell, is nearly complete. I can only hope the images will turn out as inspiring as the time; they are meant to invoke the literary worlds which inspired Susan Cooper as she wrote The Dark Is Rising, as well as the real, elemental magic of the earth that wakens the creative mind and sends us dreaming.

Production stills from Gramarye.

Research for Gramarye at the Lillian H. Smith Collection of the Toronto Public Library, home of Susan Cooper's archive as well as the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books. Thanks to Leslie McGrath and the library staff for helping me through this extensive and inspiring collection.

Finished a second round of location filming for Gramarye in Wales, Buckinghamshire, and Cornwall, from the Feast Week celebrations of Mevagissey, featured in Over Sea, Under Stone, to the submerged Welsh forest and midsummer Thames Valley of Silver on the Tree. Many thanks to my mother, Mary Morse, for her patient assistance as we traipsed through herds of Welsh cattle, and to Jane Morgan of St Meva, John and Megan Reynolds of the Celtic House, and the lovely Gilly Wraight for their kind hospitality.

Production stills from Gramarye. Top left: Cliffs off Mevagissey, Cornwall. Top right: Lane and houses, Mevagissey, Cornwall. Bottom left: Church of St James the Less, Dorney, Buckinghamshire. Bottom right: Llyn Barfog, Panorama Walk, Aberdyfi, Wales.

The world premiere of Regarding Susan Sontag will take place at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday April 19th, with three additional festival screenings:

Production still for Regarding Susan Sontag. Directed by Nancy Kates.

Saturday April 19, 8:30pm
SVA Theater 2 Beatrice

Sunday April 20, 5:30pm
Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea 4

Monday April 21, 5:30pm
AMC Loews Village 7 - 3

Friday April 25, 6pm
AMC Loews Village 7 - 1

I'll be in New York for the first three screenings and am so proud to have been part of such an inspiring project!

Embarking on a one-year M.Phil at the University of Cambridge in Critical Approaches to Children's Literature to widen my research in children's literature overall and The Dark Is Rising in particular, in support of my work on Gramarye and for future research.

Residency at The MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH.

I will be filming Susan Cooper's childhood books, manuscripts, and candle-lit realms of fantasy for Gramarye, complete with the exquisite Signs of Light in iron, bronze, wood, stone, gold and glass my father, Steve Morse, has been making for the film.

I am so very grateful for the opportunity to work in such an inspiring place, amid such wonderful company.

Presented paper and film "Gods of the Wild: Numinous figures of land and sea in Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising" for the Green Man/Wild Man in Children's Culture conference at Trinity College Dublin, co-organized by fellow Cooper scholar Jane Carroll and featuring panels with Roni Natov, Sally Nichols, and Jim Kay.