October 5th, 2009


One Afternoon in Connecticut

I had every intention of spending all day yesterday in this chair, at this desk, writing. But, that's not what happened. Spooky noted that I'd not left the house since last Tuesday, September 29. I'm getting bad like that again, and I don't want to get bad like that again. So...I forced myself to get dressed (and it really was an act of some considerable will) and leave the house.

Oh, I neglected to mention that two of the stories that will be appearing in The Ammonite Violin & Others, stories that originally appeared in Sirenia Digest, will be appearing in the collection under new titles. "Untitled 23" has become "A Child's Guide to the Hollow Hills," and "Untitled 26" has become “The Hole With a Girl In Its Heart." Now...back to our entry, already in progress.

So, having managed to herd me out the back door, into the hallway, and down the winding stairs to the Outside world, there was some brief discussion of where we would be going. Beavertail was suggested, and Moonstone Beach, and Narragansett, and Shannock (don't ask me why), and Westerly. It was a bright day, the clouds having broken up, bright but not too bright. And warm enough that I was not constantly reminded that it is now autumn. Finally, I proposed we drive to Stonington, in extreme southeastern Connecticut, just across the state line. Stonington happens to be one of my favorite places in the area, but we'd not really visited since moving to Providence last summer. Spooky said Stonington sounded good, so that's where we headed. I think we left the city about 2:30 p.m. On the drive down, I read another story from Ellen Datlow's Lovecraft Unbound, Joyce Carol Oates' "Commencement." A so-so story, not bad, but it felt a little too much like a reworking of Shirley Jackson's far more eloquent story, "The Lottery." I read, Spooky drove, and it was about 4 p.m. by the time we reached Stonington.

Mostly, we wanted to spend some time in Stonington Cemetery, as it's one of the most beautiful around. Though not incorporated until 1849, it was a burying ground long before then. I've found markers dating back to 1760, and I'm fairly certain there are older ones to be discovered. You may recall, Murder of Angels opens in this cemetery, which I first visited in 2000. We spent about an hour walking the grounds, peering into crypts, just soaking up the fading day. Spooky took photos (below), while I wrote down names. As I have said before, cemeteries are the best places to find names. No one can fairly accuse you of having "made up" a name like Mary Bloodgood when you can show them a photograph of the tombstone bearing the name. There were dragonflies and butterflies flitting about in the haze.

After the cemetery, we drove down through the village itself, to Stonington Point, which looks out across Fisher Island Sound. From the point, looking back to the southeast, you can see Rhode Island across the sound: Napatree Point, Watch Hill, Westerly. Just east, there's Sandy Point, a small, barren island. There's a granite breakwater to the south, and to the west, Long Island. You may recall, this is another locale I used at the start of Murder of Angels. The tide was coming in, and there were several species of birds fishing among the rocks at the water's edge, including cormorants (Phalacorax auritus), a couple of examples of something that most resembled a Great Egret (Ardea alba), and the usual assortment of gulls, though we did spot a few Laughing Gulls (Larus atricilla), which we don't often see. We found half a small pumpkin floating in the surf. There were anvil-shaped thunderheads building to the north.

I think we headed home sometime after 6 p.m., and I read another story from Lovecraft Unbound, Gemma Files' "Marya Nox," which was actually very, very impressive. Back in Providence, we stopped for Chinese takeout. The Harvest Moon rose huge and red just as we were heading back home.

A few photos from yesterday, though Spooky took so many photos I expect I'll be posting them for days to come:

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And that was yesterday, pretty much. I did get a very nice email from someone who's reading The Red Tree for the fifth time. Julie Skaggs asks:

I had a question - which you may choose instead to address in the blog for the benefit of all your readers— as I was struck with a similarity in regards to not only the metafictional elements of Sarah and Amanda's relationship in The Red Tree as compared to any of your own, but also of Francis Bacon and George Dyer. And I wondered if Bacon was not only an artistic touchstone for the novel in terms of his actual work as a reference for that of Constance/Bettina, but also elements of his life. If you have the time and (more importantly) the inclination to answer this inquiry I'd be most appreciative, but I know the wheel ever turns and I do not mean to be intrusive, only so very curious in regards to this particular world you've created in the narrative.

I do love astute readers. Guilty as charged, as regards both Bacon and Dyer. Bacon has been a very important influence, and I read a lot of biography, and find odd parallels (or maybe they're not odd at all), and these things inevitably bleed together.

Oh, and, on Etsy, I've found the perfect mask to wear for the dramatic reading of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (I'm to play Oberon) at next year's ReaderCon 21.