The Writes of Winter

wonderbookI survived a delightful and intimate winter retreat with Indiana Horror Writers this past weekend. It was conceived as a gathering of 20+ writers and publishers and a dozen paranormal investigators or so all coming together under the roof of a haunted Italianate building where the nightmares of the Midwestern Gothic would become all too real.

The weather, I’m afraid, did not cooperate. A few stragglers braved the wind and the snow and we huddled together, swapping ghost stories and publishing gossip, fending off winter’s cruel hand with hard won wit and wisdom (and some fine Scotch).

There’s an afterglow following retreats and conventions that settles upon a writer, descending like a funeral shroud to drape across weary shoulders. Words that had struggled to come flow more freely and the writer is once more tasked to assault the barren page with unfettered and sometimes reckless abandon.

The retreat may not have come off as intended, but I think, in the end, it was the better for it.

I know it was exactly what I needed.

Besides the camaraderie and good food shared, I also came away with something unexpected — Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer. A gift from Jerry Gordon, Wonderbook is a remarkable collection of interviews and insights from celebrated and noteworthy authors, lavishly (and surrealistically) illustrated. The interior design alone is worth the price of admission. Add to that erudition from the likes of Neil Gaiman and George R. R. Martin (among many others) and you have something truly special.

So, yes… we few survived, despite the best efforts of the preternatural beings occupying that brick and mortar edifice that looms over my haunted hometown. Their ghostly footfalls, concussive assault, and spectral typing (W A K E) (Why???) only fueled our imaginations.

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