Meet Kasey Lansdale
When Kasey Lansdale walks into a room, she is almost always the center of attention, not just because of her classical beauty, but for the energy and confidence she carries. One photograph of her reminds, clearly, of Philip van Dijk’s “Portrait of Young Girl with Lute” or Gerrit van Honthorst’s “Woman Playing the Guitar” or a Giovanni Battista Tiepolo or Johannes Vermeer painting.
At 25, she is still a work in progress, of course. And, like art, the value is in what’s below the surface — what story the art tells us when we consider it fully.
“All of us are acting on one level or another,” Kasey said. We go to our job, fill that role whatever it is — we are in character as a singer, a clerk, a nurse, or whatever. That’s what I feel when I get to express my art. Any artist has something inside, and it comes out different for different people. Sometimes it’s better as poem or a song, or a painting. Most artists have multiple talents; it’s just the way that talent manifests. And when anybody has a talent, they are an artist; we don’t have to define that too strictly.”
Kasey is the daughter of Joe and Karen Lansdale in Nacogdoches. Karen is a writer and an editor; Joe writes western, horror, science fiction, mystery, and suspense novels and stories that have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He writes movie scripts, graphic novels, and more including pieces for so-called literary magazines and he’s won six Bram Stoker Awards, a British Fantasy Award, an American Horror Award, an Edgar Award, and “grand master” status in the horror genre. He’s also a two-time inductee into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame as the creator of shen chuan, which he calls an amalgam of a number of martial arts.
“No state better represents the independent spirit, the can-do attitude of America, better than Texas,” Joe said.
So, with both of her parents being artists, it’s no surprise that Kasey is an artist, too, and in several styles that add up to a life.
“My mom has always said my life has been a musical,” she said. “As long as any of us can remember, I’ve been singing, even when I was in a shopping cart at Wal-Mart.”
She’s about to release a new CD — her first full-length effort — that’s basically country-blues and is tentatively titled Never Say Never. She also leads songwriting workshops, most recently with John Carter Cash -— yes, Johnny and June’s son — and previously with Linda Davis and with Bonnie Baker to teach both the art side and the business side of music.
The music is just the tip of the iceberg. Kasey became a published fiction writer at age eight when Random House published her short story, which has since been adapted into a Hollywood script that, like many other scripts, is “being shopped” for possible production.
Kasey also just finished editing “The Impossible Monsters,” a collection of horror stories to be published by Subterranean Press. The stories were written mostly by authors she grew up with; it’s the first of four anthologies she’s editing to be published in the next couple of years.
“I’m trying to establish myself with legitimacy as an editor,” she said.
Kasey also does a bit of acting and print modeling, is 35,000 words into a “chick-lit” -— for want of a better expression, she said — novel, and recently produced a play in Los Angeles with actor Thomas Jane. They are putting that play, “By Bizarre Hands,” together with “Suckerfish” and a couple of others for a show in New York City for a child advocacy organization named Protect.
“I do work with Protect and with a lot of fostering for animals and trying to find them homes — lots of different animal rights groups,” Kasey said.
There’s also a new western saloon book series, “Rancho Diablo,” in process that she’s not writing but modeled for the cover, with a character, “Songbird,” around that image.
That’s a lot of life being lived as art.
“Just because you don’t do it full time doesn’t mean you’re not an artist,” she said. “It manifests different ways. Being a doctor is an art. It’s hard to be free and to allow yourself to do something that’s different. It can be a scary world, but it’s a great world. I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything.”
Sometimes being an artist means taking chances.
“You have to accept the environment that if people don’t like what you do, you can starve,” Kasey said. “I wouldn’t want a 9-5 job. I probably work more now than I ever did before, but I love it.”
Like many full-time artists, she does sometimes miss normal friendships and relationships.
“The career is at the front and you can’t build or maintain relationships when you are on the road all the time,” she said. “You always have to have the mentality about the next thing you can get involved in. You can’t wait on it to come to you. If you’re not excited about it, how do you expect other people to be excited about it?”
What you see — and what’s below the surface — is what you get with Kasey, she said.
“There is a level when I’m in front of a group that I have to reach. You do have a persona that you have to embody,” she said. “But I think the most successful people are the ones who are just themselves. You have to self promote, but you want to be true to who you really are. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I’m going to be happy and excited because that’s my personality, and l’ll talk and talk. When I’m acting or modeling, I feel like a goofy little kid and I don’t know why they called me, but we turn the lights on and just do the job.
Growing up in East Texas, you’re dealing with some of the most real salt-of-the-earth folks and hardworking people, and I try to maintain those beliefs and values,” she said. “I’ve known people all over the world with those values, and that’s in my family, too. What some performers forget are that these are the people who put beans on your table. Without them, I’m just a little kid with a dream.”
Learn more about Kasey Lansdale at www.kaseylansdale.com.