Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Life in Malibu

For West of the Moon Books' 20th anniversary and 10th title we took a detour from harp music to present Life in Malibu, a collection of essays and photographs on the history and natural history of author Suzanne Guldimann's hometown, one of the most celebrated seaside communities on earth.

I published my first book of harp music in 1998. In that ancient era there was little music available for the Celtic harp and even less for lap harp. 

Green Grows the Holly was an entirely home grown effort, assembled on my first Apple MacIntosh and illustrated with my own woodcuts and ink drawings. Each page of text or music had to be printed out and photographed individually to create the final manuscript. 

In order to publish the book I needed to start a publishing company. I picked the name West of the Moon Books, filed for a DBA, and bought a block of 10 ISBN numbers—international standard book numbers—with no expectation that I would ever use them all. That's all it took to become a publishing house—that and something to publish.

When I was a child I wanted to be a writer and illustrator when I grew up. I didn't know it then, but Green Grows the Holly was the first step toward that goal, if not in the way I had envisioned.

That childhood ambition may be why I chose the name West of the Moon, in part for the fairytale about the red-haired girl and the Great Bear of the North, and partly for J.R.R. Tolkien's poem that goes:

Still road the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

Over the next two decades I published nine books of music for the harp. Between the harp books and along the way I went back to school and got a masters degree. I changed careers and became a journalist. I've written over a thousand articles for the local media about Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains, the place where I grew up and still live, the place that I love. 

My first non-harp book, Life in Malibu, is a collection of essays on Malibu's history and natural history that grew out of this chapter of my life. It was published just in time for West of the Moon Books' 20th anniversary. That 10th ISBN number that I never thought I'd need is on the cover. 

The harp books and Life and Malibu come from the same desire: sharing something that I love and care deeply about with a wider audience. Life in Malibu includes chapters on the history of Pacific Coast Highway, the lives of the mountain homesteaders in the early 20th century, a short history of surf culture and how Malibu's beaches were saved, a guide to seeing and identifying whales and marine mammals, a look at local wildlife, and the physics of the kind of mirage we often see on the horizon, once attributed by sailors to the sorceress Morgan le Fay. The book is illustrated with archival and original photographs.

Life in Malibu is now available on Amazon. My 10th collection of harp music, A Song for the Moon, is due out in 2019. Time to buy some more ISBN numbers.

Suzanne Guldimann
West of the Moon
21 December 2018