PATRICIA ANNE ELIZABETH GENEVIEVE HONORA KENNEALY MORRISON
“Born the heir of intergalactic royalty, I was abandoned by gypsies and raised by wolves. Well, no, I wasn’t; I only act that way. For the record, I was born in New York City on 4 March 1946 at seven in the evening — which — for the zodiacally inclined, makes me Pisces, Virgo rising, Moon in Aries.”
So writes Patricia Kennealy-Morrison in her 1992 Dutton memoir, Strange Days: My Life With and Without Jim Morrison. The author — the Creatrix! — of the Keltiad fantasy series, Kennealy grew up on Long Island, New York, in a strict, traditional Irish Catholic family.
“We lived in a town I now think of as `Spielbergville’, one of the many white-bread, heavily Irish-and-Italian Catholic, suburban refugee places on the South Shore that even today seem like something out of a Spielberg movie, or Brigadoon, maybe, totally removed from the real world. It was a good place and time to be a kid, and I loved it — there were real woods all around, the ocean was just a few miles away, I learned to ride at a stable right down the road — but it was limiting in a lot of ways. My best friend was the daughter of the only Jewish family around, and I never even met a black or Asian person until I left home. Back then, you were expected to live at home and commute to a local college — if you went to college at all, that is; it wasn’t always encouraged, especially if you were a girl, even a really smart one — then get married, buy a house in the same town, get a local job, have kids, and, basically, become your own parents. Which is perfectly fine for some, but I knew at a very early age that that was not going to be the way I did things.”
She started doing things her way by going away to college at seventeen, and spent two years at St. Bonaventure University in western New York State, where she majored in journalism, became a practicing Celtic witch, and, as the captain of the women’s rifle team, learned to shoot M-1s and M-16s — and very well too. In her junior year she transferred to ultraliberal, superintellectual Harpur College (now Binghamton University), and graduated with a B.A. in English literature in June 1967, having worked her way through senior year as a go-go dancer (“NOT topless!”) in local roadhouses.
After moving immediately to Manhattan, and spending a few months as a harmless drudge of a lexicographer working on a dictionary at Macmillan, she landed “the best job in this world or any other”: editorial assistant on a progressive rock music magazine called Jazz & Pop; and in 1968, at age twenty-two, she became its editor-in-chief.
In the line of duty, as editor and rock critic (one of the first women rock critics ever; one of her, uh, seminal critical pieces, “Rock Around the Cock,” from the October 1970 issue of Jazz & Pop, has been reprinted in a breakthrough anthology of women’s rock writing called Rock She Wrote, edited by Evelyn McDonnell and Ann Powers), Kennealy was forced to go to the Fillmore East every weekend, clubs and concerts all week long, compelled to attend Woodstock and other legendary moments of the 60’s, and required to interview people like Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia, Alvin Lee, Carly Simon, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page — and, oh yeah, Jim Morrison.
Not in the line of duty, the rock critic and the Lizard King fell in love; after a slightly old-fashioned and deeply untraditional courtship (“We were the first of the bicoastal couples”), they were married in a Celtic ceremony on June 24, 1970. Thirteen months later, Morrison was dead in Paris of a heroin overdose, although he was not even a casual user of the drug and was by that time abusing only alcohol. The true cause and circumstances of his death were immediately covered up, and remained so for many years; and it is his widow’s unshakable belief that he met his death at the hands of Pamela Courson, a girlfriend and well-known heroin addict.
Kennealy-Morrison began seriously to write her Keltiad novels in the early 80’s (“though Jim was the first person to hear about them, back in 1970, when I first had the idea”), after a career in advertising that earned her two Clio nominations and a bunch of other awards.
The first book of the Keltiad, The Copper Crown, appeared in 1984; the paperback edition of that work saw the beginning of her long author-artist partnership with renowned illustrator Thomas Canty. Other books in the series are The Throne of Scone, The Silver Branch, The Hawk’s Gray Feather, The Oak Above the Kings, The Hedge of Mist and the upcoming Blackmantle; she has plans for a dozen more.
In 1989, Kennealy-Morrison became involved with director Oliver Stone’s alleged biopic The Doors. She was a consultant on the film, had a small cameo part (“Oliver’s idea of fire insurance”), officiating at her own marriage ceremony, and was herself portrayed by actress Kathleen Quinlan.
At present she is working on the eighth Keltiad book, The Deer’s Cry, and a “religious thriller” tentatively entitled Endtimes. She is a Dame of the Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani, a practicing witch and former High Priestess in a Celtic pagan tradition, a member of Mensa (Jim too had a Mensa-level IQ: 149), and, “with all those seriously deranged individuals worshipping my Jim as a god, I say that makes me a goddess by marriage. But my preferred title is, of course, Lizard Queen.”
Well, okay, if you insist; but would Your Lacertine Majesty have any advice for those pilgrims on the Web who have found their way to this place?
“Sure. Don’t drop the brown acid.”
Note on Nomenclature
My birth surname was Kennely (pronounced Ken-NEEL-ee, not kennel-ee). A degradation of the original Irish O’Kinealy (itself one of many variant spellings of the correct Cinnfhaolidh), it means “wolf’s head”, and is indicative of a line of Irish tribal shamans or priests, who as a sign of their sacred office would wear a wolf’s head upon their own, the pelt down their backs.
On 24 June 1970, I married James Douglas Morrison in a private religious ceremony, and from that night forward I used his surname in conjunction with my own. (And he used his name of me, on the letters he wrote me afterwards, until his death on 3 July 1971, and on and in a letter left for me in the event of such…they’re all addressed to Patricia Kennely Morrison, or Patricia Morrison, and even to Mrs. James Morrison.)
In December 1979 I petitioned a New York City court for legal use of the name ‘Morrison’, and my petition was granted. At that time, for professional reasons, I also chose to change the spelling of my birthname, and have used ‘Kennealy Morrison’ ever since. It is my only, full, legal name — the name on the passport, the tax forms, the checkbooks. Just as importantly, it is the name Jim himself, of his own free will, chose to bestow upon me, and I use it to honor him and us together.
I did not use Jim’s name on my first five books because I did not wish to be accused of trying to capitalize on it, and preferred to use my birthname. Once Strange Days was published, and my relationship with Jim had become a matter of public knowledge, I chose to add his name to mine in public as I had used it in private for 21 years — for which, surprise, guess what, I have been accused of trying to capitalize on it. Since I obviously can’t win, I will do what pleases both Jim and me, and the hell with anyone out there who has a problem with it.
Just so you know.