So I woke up in Fayetteville, still alive, which I have to think is good.
Mad drive back to Wilmington for my Cape Fear panel. The morning was moody and stunningly beautiful, dark banks of clouds high in the sky and the gauziest veil of clouds very low, practically right above the car, and a strong, strong wind that gusted leaves in cyclones along the way.
I made my reading right on the dot, miraculous! And then did two more panels: Fearless Self Promotion and Writing Crime for the Screen. I got to reconnect with new NC author friends Katy Munger and Sarah Shaber and a crop of magnificent librarians from the New Hanover Library, which hosted the Festival.
After my last panel I snuck out and walked around downtown Wilmington. What a fabulous port town – old historic buildings and far enough south to have actual Spanish moss. Not as many ghosts per capita as Savannah, but you can tell there are a few. The sky had cleared and there was a gale-force wind – it was a challenge to walk in it, especially with this hair. I did the Riverwalk, which is technically the Intracoastal Waterway Walk. There was a horrifically young bridal party taking photos by a trolley, bracing against the wind and overpowering sun. As I kept walking I realized that this wedding had hired out one restaurant patio for the ceremony, another for the dinner party, PLUS a whole ship, I guess for the night. (So who’s Daddy, I wonder?) It’s my opinion that the bridal party was far too young to take full advantage of the potential decadence of that setting.
The yachts berthed along the Riverwalk were lavishly decorated for Halloween – ghosts flying from railings, huge black spiders clinging to ropes and nets, gravestones on the decks. I’d forgotten it was Halloween already and was sad not to be anywhere near the Castro, but this was great eye candy.
I sat at an outdoor patio and watched the sun go down over the waterway – with an anniversary couple on either side of me. We had lovely random chat – and they were all very excited to hear about THE HARROWING. I think possibly you make your best sales just sitting there letting people come to you.
But the culmination of the whole trip was getting in the car to drive the next morning and having a whole set of very dark songs play on the radio, starting with Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen”. And suddenly there was the whole story I had felt prickling in the bookstore with the clerks. I knew I just HAD it. So I drove and talked it into my mini tape recorder and, hallelujah, it looks like I’m going to make my DARKER MASK deadline after all.
The next day, Halloween, I flew to LA and wrote 13 pages, start to finish, and blocked out the whole thing. Lots more work to do, but it's there - a whole story – my first ever – on Halloween. And definitely as dark and spooky as the day.
Sometimes it’s pretty fucking great to be a writer.