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"Mother Nature is a serial killer."



When I was a child, growing up in Leeds, Alabama, the summer days – beginning part way through May, ending September – were frequently broiling. Nineties Fahrenheit were the norm, with occasional heat waves during which the mercury would climb above 100˚F. I'd say that days when the heat index was above 100˚F were not uncommon, excepting for the fact that the heat index wasn't developed until 1978 (and adopted the next year by the National Weather Service). I'd wake to the heat. My sister and I usually came inside in the mid afternoon to watch television and read, then went out again as the sun began to get low in the sky (or if a thunderstorm showed up to cool things down). We would often stay out past dark, when the temperature would dip into the high eighties. At bedtime, we'd toss and turn on bare sheets, turning the pillow over and over to find the cool side. We'd wake to sweat. It goes without saying, this being the Deep South, the humidity was normally very high. Then, when I was a teenager, we moved to Trussville (~6 miles NW), into a big new house with AC. After that – except when doing field work – I was rarely without AC, and I became spoiled, as are most Americans, I'd imagine.

In the South, houses – especially the old sort I lived in in Leeds – were built with heat in mind. In the North, the opposite is true. Houses are built to withstand the winters, as the summers are mild. They're built to retain heat, and in an old one, like this one, built in 1875, you're not likely to find AC beyond window units.

Currently, it's 90˚ (heat index 97˚) in Providence – not too bad for a summer's day in Leeds – and only 84˚ inside. But it feels much, much hotter. I want my childhood heat tolerance back, before all those decades of AC and before these drugs that dramatically lower my body's heat tolerance. Still, this beats the shit out of winter and Cold Spring.


Yesterday I finished up Sirenia Digest #89, and it went out to subscribers. Vince Locke turned in the final versions of his illustrations for The Ape's Wife and Other Stories and Black Helicopters* – and they are gorgeous – and I sent those off to Subterranean Press.

And now it's time that I begin work on a short story that's due at the end of July, and I also have to begin work on what is probably the final Siobhan Quinn book, Cherry Bomb. I also have quite a lot of work to still to do consulting with Jerad Walters on the Centipede Press edition of The Drowning Girl: A Memoir.

My once stellar work ethic is sucking of late.

Yesterday, I read "New material of the choristodere Lazarussuchus (Diapsida, Choristodera) from the Paleocene of France," along with a review of Sébastien Steyer, Alain Bénéteau and Chris Spence's Earth Before the Dinosaurs (La Terre avant les dinosaurs; I read the book months ago) – both in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (33:2).

Sometimes, I feel bad about not reading more fiction. Actually, I frequently feel that way. But, the truth of the matter is that non-fiction, even very technical non-fiction, gives me a lot of story ideas, and I rarely get ideas from the fiction of other authors. And there are very few fiction authors I actually enjoy reading. I might find one novel a year that impresses me, if I'm lucky. Also, reading fiction usually feels like work, and, often, I find myself proofreading as I go or thinking of all the ways the novel could be better, how I could have done it better. And since my skill as a fiction writer only seems to be improving – if critical response means anything – my reading habits certainly aren't hurting my art. This means that it's high time I stop feeling weird about not reading a lot of fiction, and time I stop allowing the reading lists of other authors to make me feel crappy about reading so few novels and so little short fiction. Screw you, peer pressure.

Now, I'm off to sweat.

Aunt Beast

* The chapbook Black Helicopters is only available with the limited edition, which you have to order directly from subpress.


( 14 comments — Have your say! )
Jun. 24th, 2013 05:37 pm (UTC)
the weather guessers said we would have 93% humidity today due to last nights cloud cover.. which is not our normal .... and 67 degrees out... ick.
Jun. 24th, 2013 05:48 pm (UTC)

67˚ is COLD.
Jun. 24th, 2013 06:01 pm (UTC)
here, not so much... when the winds arent blowing, its very nice. But then, I am a Willamette Valley Girl when it comes to our weather..

Jun. 24th, 2013 05:51 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday indeed!
Jun. 24th, 2013 07:55 pm (UTC)
I finally got past some of the Centipede Press books I wanted - Mass for Mixed Voices by Charles Beaumont, The Exorcist (studies) Dead Titans,Awake! Donald Wandrei, Cisco's box set and Carrie (film studies) so finally I can pre-order The Apes Wife limited. I want to get the Sandman / Death bookends - but your collection has to take priority.
Jun. 24th, 2013 07:59 pm (UTC)

Happy birthday, Spooky!

It is 89°F in the house where I am now, except for my room where I've turned on the window unit. I was born in New England. I've never had heat tolerance. Mild summers would be very fine by me.

Screw you, peer pressure.

Jun. 24th, 2013 08:21 pm (UTC)
Happy day, Spooky; hope there are treats to beat the heat.
Jun. 24th, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday Ms Pollnac.
Steven Barritz
Jun. 24th, 2013 09:38 pm (UTC)
There's an NPR story about Robert Aickman entitled "'New Strange' Stories Hold A Chilling Mirror To Life". I see you have several books of his on your Amazon wishlist, so thought you'd be interested.
Jun. 24th, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
I'm sooo looking forward to The Ape's Wife.../Black Helicopters!
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 25th, 2013 02:26 am (UTC)

Best wishes for the day to Spooky!
Jun. 25th, 2013 07:42 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday!Most of my family and loved ones are June people.

a sleep in heat trick. put toweling down as the bottom sheet. As you sweat in the heat it is absorbed by the toweling and you stay cooler.

Jun. 25th, 2013 09:03 pm (UTC)
Richard Matheson
I heard that Richard Matheson has died. I guess Mother Nature has taken another one of us. Happy Birthday Spooky. May you have many more.
( 14 comments — Have your say! )