Happy October—by far the best month of the year. Many of my stories have bits that occur in October, and, in the case of Mister Tender’s Girl, the whole book takes places over two weeks of the month, from the middle of October through Halloween. And the creepiness notches up each passing day.
This was the first book I went “on location” to research and found myself in Manchester, New Hampshire in October 2015. I stayed at a beautiful bed & breakfast (the Ash Street Inn, which I highly recommend) and wandered about the streets, trying to envision the life of Alice Hill, the book’s protagonist. This is her house. Here is the coffee shop she owns. By the end of the trip, I pictured it all. The home of Alice, her place of sanctuary, where all she wants is to be anonymous and far away from her tortured past.
But of course, that doesn’t happen.
The writerly lesson I learned from going on-location: Is it worth it to travel for a story? Imagination helps, but it’s no substitute for the the real thing. Travel far, travel often, travel always.
I spend way too much goddamn time on Halloween décor. I swear to God. Three hours today, just trying to hook up the air compressor to the motion-relay and solenoid vale (not to mention bucket of water) just to get my spitting cobra working. And that’s just one piece of what awaits the poor fools who dare beg a free Snickers fun-size from me this year.
What I’m Reading
Website I can’t get enough of: New York Times Movie Reviews. I love reading reviews. Whether for a movie I’ve seen or know nothing about, film criticism is fascinating, especially when written at the high levels on display at the NYT. My favorite reviewer? Manohla Dargis.
Book I can’t put down: Ali Land’s Good Me Bad Me. Holy hell. This was an impulse buy at the Bangkok airport before I jumped on a very long trip home. But, this book. Dark, disturbing. Original. Wondrous display of voice. Visceral. Check it out.