Today, with luck, I will begin writing The Red Tree. I now have four and a half months to write the novel, and I'll easily lose two weeks of that to the move. Yesterday, I finished Michael E. Bell's Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England's Vampires (2001), a really excellent book treating the folklore of the tuberculosis-related cases of "vampirism" from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, etc. I first encountered the book at the Peace Dale Public Library (one of the most beautiful libraries in South County) in August 2006, while doing research there, and I scarfed a used copy of the book somewhere or another, but it's taken me this long to get around to reading it.
Yesterday, I also read "Ichnotaxonomy* of bird-like footprints: an example from the Late Triassic-Early Jurassic of Northwest Argentina" in the latest Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. After dinner (Spanish rice with chicken, pintos with jalapeños, fresh avocados and tomato), I did a nice bit of rp with Lorne, Brit, Nicholette, and Artemisia (er...Spooky) in the library in Toxian City. Then Spooky and I watched Danny Boyle's Sunshine for the fourth time. Later still, I organized the hard-drive on my old iBook (Victoria Regina) while she read me a couple more chapters of House of Leaves (this will be our third time through). That was yesterday, pretty much.
Most of the stress during the last couple of weeks has derived from our trying to find a place to live in Providence, a living space suited to our particular needs and my particular aesthetic. We thought we'd found something good in Elmwood, but it turned out not to be so good after all. Don't even get me started on the three front doors. But yesterday, Spooky's mother looked at an apartment near the Armory District, which we think is going to be the place. It's perfect. So, the stress level has lessened considerably. Now, I just have to contemplate the nightmare of packing and making the actual move. We'll likely leave Atlanta sometime between mid and late May, so, not much time left at all.
I've not left the house since we got back from the Colin Meloy show on Thursday night, mostly because the weather turned cold after the thunderstorms on Friday. The warm-up is coming slower than predicted. It's been a chilly spring. I don't think we've had a single day in the '80s (Fahrenheit) yet. Right now, it's 48F, but feels like 42F with the wind chill.
My thanks to David Kirkpatrick (corucia) for the following photo (behind the cut), taken in a local (for him) Barnes and Noble in Minneapolis. I've always been annoyed at authors who measure their success by how many inches their books take up on the shelves of a bookshop, but, after most of these novels went out of print two years ago, seeing them back, seeing that I presently have five novels and a novelization on the shelves (and that they appear to be in the "science fiction and fantasy" section, not "horror"), is somewhat reassuring, I must admit.
Oh, and I have this comment from reverendcrofoot, regarding the age of the narrator in The Red Tree: "See, the thing with age is unless the author says it directly it's really hard to tell. I would have never guessed Dancy's age if you hadn't told me...Make her whatever age you want, but just don't tell us how old she is...avoid it. It would be interesting to see the ages people guess."
It would be interesting, perhaps, but I am far too visual and specific in my writing to allow the age of a central character (or most minor ones) to go unstated. How Sarah Crowe will face the trials of the novel, who she is, and so forth, all that stems from the sum of her life experiences, which can be measured, in part, by her age. A twenty-year-old woman would very likely not cope with these experiences the same way that a forty-four-year-old woman would, and much of what concerns me as an author is how a character acts or reacts (truthfully, I would argue action and reaction are synonyms) in any given situation. That was one of the joys of writing "Salammbô Redux (2007)" for the 3rd edition of Tales of Pain and Wonder, having the opportunity to go back and look at a character I first wrote as a preteen, now in her forties. So, interesting idea, but it would never work for me.
Oh, and I think today is the last day to vote in the 2008 Locus Poll & Survey. Many of my short stories are eligible, and Daughter of Hounds made the drop-down menu in the "Best Fantasy Novel" category.
Okay. Time for the juice of the bean.
* An ichnotaxon is a taxon — a family, genus, or species — based solely on evidence derived from fossil footprints (or other traces, such as the burrows left by marine animals). When I lived in Birmingham, back when I was still doing paleontology, I was often aided by Andy Rindsberg, a friend and inchologist, Curator of the paleontological collections of the Alabama State Geological Survey.