Tag Archives: Death Never Dies: Mourning 2020 Through The Lives and Deaths of Public Figures

Interview with Author Lee Fearnside

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve also been interested in stories, although until a few years ago most of my storytelling was done visually. I believe stories are a great way to understand other people – their experiences, their perspectives on the world – and so developing an anthology as a collection of people’s stories seemed a natural fit.


2) What inspired you to write your book?

Let’s be honest – 2020 sucked. It pretty much sucked for everyone. We were all affected by a pandemic the likes of which our world hadn’t seen in 100 years, America was increasingly polarized, there was a tidal wave of protests against racial injustice, we had a tumultuous presidential election, and it feels like the list goes on and on. Developing this anthology and making the portraits of public figures who died was both obsession (I made a lino cut portrait every week, and I think I gave myself carpel tunnel) and balm. I wanted to try to make sense of my own grief by understanding others’ grief.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

My hope is that even amidst despair we can find hope in our collective experience. That even though 2020 sucked, the way through was together. That somehow by mourning these people, these celebrities and public figures and our complicated relationships with them, we could find connection.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

In many ways this book is an extension of an anthology I edited and illustrated with my brother, published in 2018, that mourned celebrities who died in 2016. Perhaps these books serve as bookends to each other.

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Instagram is a way that I connect with other artists, and have been able to share work in progress from this and other projects.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Just keep making. If you have a story to tell, you’ll find your audience. Yes, it’s a lot of work but your story is important, so keep using your voice.

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m working on a project about community. I’ve been interviewing people from all over the country and in all different fields about how they define community and how they work to create change. To date, the participants include a political candidate and Trump accuser, an urban planner, a human trafficking victims advocate, an immigration lawyer, a poet, a Franciscan nun, and more. Collectively the book creates a portrait of a community in America today. I hope to finish the book sometime later this year. 


About the Author

Lee Fearnside is an artist and curator. Her photographic work has been exhibited in galleries and museums  in New England, the Midwest and in national juried shows, including the Toledo Museum of Art, the Reece Museum and the New York Hall of Science. She published O! Relentless Death: Celebrity, Loss and Mourning with her brother in 2018, and the book won the Independent Voice Award gold medal from the Independent Publishers Book Awards and was a finalist in American Book Fest. She has curated group exhibitions around themes of sustainability, diversity, food systems and art from Ohio prisons, funded in part by grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Ohio Humanities Council. Fearnside earned a BA from Smith College, a M.F.A in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, and a M.S. in Arts Administration from Drexel University.


Death Never Dies: Mourning 2020 Through the Lives and Deaths of Public Figures by Lee Fearnside 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Lee Fearnside takes readers on an emotional and insightful journey into how celebrity deaths impact the public and what it means to remember them and say goodbye to them in the book, “Death Never Dies: Mourning 2020 Through the Lives and Deaths of Public Figures”.


The Synopsis

This anthology mourns 27 public figures who died in 2020 with essays and poetry by 40 writers paired with relief print portraits. Some may have been celebrities for decades, while others found international attention through their deaths, but all shaped our perception of our world. The public figures mourned range from Eddie Van Halen to Ellis Marsalis Jr., George Floyd to Jim Lehrer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Kobe Bryant.

Contributing writers include poets laureate, a screenwriter, playwrights, artists, educators, activists, journalists, a chef, and storytellers.

Mourning celebrities may be a way to mourn something larger. We don’t know these people, after all, but they often have significance in our lives. By reflecting on people through words and images, this project asks who and what do we want to say goodbye to, and who and what do we want to remember. Together, these images and words help us understand our relationships to each other and to ourselves during this tumultuous year.

The Review

This is such an insightful and engaging read. The interesting aspect of this book is how the author brought together so many different writers to add their voices to the cacophony of emotions and powerful writing that inhabits this collection. The study of celebrities and public figures is so inherently fascinating and investing in our modern age when news and gossip are available at the touch of a button instantly now. 

When a well-known public figure who has had an impact either purposely or inadvertently on our lives passes away, we feel that loss deeply. For me, one loss, in particular, hit hard in 2020, and that was Chadwick Boseman. The actor had become an icon for so many people around the world as the actor behind King T’Challa, aka The Black Panther of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

While I connected to him as a fan of the comics, I could feel and recognize the emotional and inspiring impact he had on so many in the Black community around the world, and to see him go at such a young age was heartbreaking. Reading the heartfelt and emotional poetry and essays that so many writers put into this person’s life and death was incredibly moving, and really highlighted the impact those in the spotlight can have on us all personally.


The Verdict

A truly gripping, moving, and engaging read, author Lee Fearnside’s “Death Never Dies” is a must-read, non-fiction collection of fantastic writers and emotional writing overall. Accompanied by some truly vivid and awesome artwork of the late celebrities and figures, getting to see how these figures impacted people not only on a global scale and the social movements some of them represented, but how the personal impacts on each writer’s individual lives were so eloquently represented in the book was inspiring and really touched upon the human experience overall. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10