The long strange trip is the only reason I write at all. It’s like reading, except this time I’m in the driver’s seat. I get to live other lives, and go places that are impossible … if not impossible for me right now (because they aren’t the lives that I’m living now) then absolutely impossible.
Right now, I’m sitting in the Coffee Gallery, the cafe in the common space of the Open Book Building in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Simultaneously, as I’m writing my novel, I’m a teenaged boy from the Iron Age who’s in the place-between, what the Tibetan Buddhists call the bardo. He’s remembering his last life as if it were a dream and nagging the protagonist to let him step across the border into the world of the living.
Which happens to be an as-yet-unselected university town in an alternate-universe twenty-first-century Germany, but he doesn’t know that yet. All he knows is that he would like to have a bite of what she had for lunch. Maybe more than a bite.
And I just ran into an art buddy who turned up in The Lost Pissarro under the name of Florence and saved the day by summoning the Lady of the Crossroads, Hekate herself.
No, Hekate is not one of the bad guys. Shakespeare got that one wrong. She’s the patron of interdisciplinary scholars and magic-realist novelists and other witchy characters.
One of us, in a word.
And of an evening, I’m reading Karen T. Taylor’s Forensic Art and Illustration and watching YouTube videos about constructing wax anatomical models. Oh yes, and getting a quick peek at how the folks at Madame Tussauds made eight (yes, eight!) spookily lifelike wax likenesses of Lady Gaga.
And for spooky… there’s this German archaeology documentary about the real-life original of my Iron Age teenager. It’s shot like a horror film, but as far as I can tell is fairly accurate. (I don’t speak German yet, but the background reading is giving me clues as to what’s being said, and it’s totally worth it for the incredibly atmospheric visuals of bogs.) Check out around 8:09 to 8:50 in part 2, where they give a demo of how to get swallowed by a bog.