I met Paul Durham, the author I would be touring with that day, for breakfast, and we instantly hit it off. Paul, a former lawyer and author of the excellent middle-grade novel THE LUCK UGLIES, lives up in New Hampshire with his wife and two daughters. He’s laid back, funny, and an all around good guy. He also writes in a refurbished chicken coop, which is ridiculously cool.
Ginny, our media guide that day, took us to two schools in the New Bedford area. Doing a shorter version of my presentation was a nice change of pace, and it was fun to play off Paul when we were answering student questions. Paul is an engaging speaker with all sorts of tricks up his sleeves, such as writing on bananas and making kids wear crazy masks. It makes a lot more sense when you see it!
Our bookstore engagement that evening was at Wellesley Books, where Paul and I chatted about our lives, writing, and inspirations. Allison, one of the booksellers there, asked us to discuss our favorite deleted scene from our respective novels. What a good question! (Quick answer: THE THICKETY was originally written in an omniscient voice, jumping from character to character, before I realized that would make it far too long. I miss the scenes written from Grace’s point-of-view.)
I spent that evening walking around New Bedford. It was once a major whaling village, and as I was staying right by the water I took some time to check out the ships and narrow cobblestone streets. As it grew dark I was reminded of another coastal town, this one from the H.P. Lovecraft story “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” but that’s probably just me. (I’m sure there are no cults that worship ancient underwater sea creatures in New Bedford. Probably.)
The next day Ginny drove me all the way from New Bedford to Cohasset, a little over an hour. Although I was pretty drained by this point in the tour, I really enjoyed the scenic drive past thick foliage and cranberry bogs, as well as our pleasant conversation about books and family. When we arrived in Cohasset I snagged coffee at Marylou’s, which proudly announced, via a bright pink sign, that it had the “BEST COFFEE IN TOWN.” (It was the only coffee I drank in Cohasset, so I have no point of comparison, but it was way better than Starbucks!)
The first school I spoke at was Inly School. The path to the office was lined with colorful cow statues, so I immediately knew I would like this place—and I wasn’t disappointed. However, the librarian at Inly School, Shelley Sommer, did a much better job writing about my visit there than I ever could, so though I’ve already tweeted it I’ll re-include her post here:
(Her blog is a great resource for teachers and librarians—I particularly liked the post about 10 picture books for teaching kindness and compassion: http://sommerreading.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/ten-picture-books-about-caring-and-compassion/)
After Inly School we journeyed to Buttonwood Books and Toys, where I did some shopping (they give visiting authors a free book—so cool!—but as they have a great selection I couldn’t settle on just one for my kids). I also picked up a copy of THE COLD SONG by Linn Ullmann, a Norwegian thriller that is also an IndieNext pick. How could I resist?
Ginny and I enjoyed sandwiches in the back room (with cranberry sauce, a local thing that I felt was a definite improvement over the usual condiments). Afterwards, we headed over to Hingham Middle School, which was a blast! The kids were incredibly enthusiastic, cheering and applauding throughout my presentation. The fact that they were on the verge of a long Memorial Day weekend might have had something to do with that. One student, who had done his research on my website, asked me the level of my Skyrim character…and shook his head sadly at my pathetic answer. Another student asked me for the name of my favorite horror movie. I started saying the real answer—SUSPIRIA—but then scrambled for something relatively more kid friendly and came up with UGETSU, the great Japanese ghost story.
Here are the FINAL tallies for “Which is scarier?”—along with my choices:
abandoned hospitals (7) vs. abandoned amusement parks (2), 1 tie. I have always had a thing for abandoned amusement parks, and I feel like there is a story there somewhere, waiting to be told.
spiders (5) vs. cockroaches (5). It ends in a tie! I’m not particularly frightened of either one of these—spiders eat other insects, which is why I try to let them do their thing, and cockroaches are pretty gross, but not really scary. Millipedes, on the other hand…I hate millipedes.
creepy children (8) vs. dolls (2). I think I’m going to write a story about a creepy child carrying a doll. It will be the scariest story ever written.
clowns (8) vs. the dark (2). I was really surprised by this one! I don’t find clowns particularly scary at all, just kind of sad. Mimes, on the other hand…
In conclusion, when my next novel is published, you’ll know where I got the idea. It’s called CLOWNS AND CREEPY CHILDREN IN THE COCKROACH-INFESTED SPIDER HOSPITAL. NY Times Bestseller Listhere I come!
Tri-state area events next…