This gorgeous painting by Gigi Mills “Pink Moon,” inspired a couple threads in the novel The Strongman and the Mermaid. Gigi’s work often includes dark nights and water that reminds me of Pittsburgh and specifically Donora. I don’t get the idea that the artist knows about these places (to the degree she’d paint a night sky of one of them), but to me she captures something that always makes me think of whatever Donora novel I’m working on. In the early to mid 20th century, the mills that lined much of Donora’s shoreline emitted chemicals that played with light and often made for stunning night skies.
Visitors to the Pittsburgh/Donora area when steel was king saw the blast furnaces light the night, the unique and powerful spewing of fire and heat. Seeing the blast stopped first-timers in their tracks. A softer coloring of the sky happened less regularly but could be just as awe-inspiring. Those who lived in these towns up and down the three rivers would see the result of the particles that hung in the air, bending light, painting the atmosphere in colors that occasionally outdid the oppressive smoke and smog. Be sure to pick up your copy of THE STRONGMAN AND THE MERMAID to see how the pink moon figures into the life and times of Lukasz and Mary Musial. httpss://smile.amazon.com/