Kate Flora: Summer 2023. Canadian smoke. Day after day of pouring rain. Fog that comes and goes and comes and goes. A flock of six large turkeys who strut through the yard or suddenly fly up into trees sounding like 747s. A rampaging horde of slugs eating all of the colorful annuals I’ve planted in pots. This is definitely weather to inspire homicidal impulses. But wait. Aren’t those exactly the impulses a crime writer should have?
I’ve often blogged about how one advantage of being a writer is that we can take all the things that happen to us–good and bad, but especially bad–and channel the feelings they inspire into our work. Annoyed at the driver who brakes at every curve and slows when going uphill as though all their blood had drained from their foot? Give the angry impulses such behavior inspires to a character.
Frustrated by the woman before you at the checkout who only starts looking for her credit card when all her purchases are bagged and back in her cart? Imagine her being skewered in an interview with your tough detective. Or the one who wants to argue about being overcharged by ten cents? These people are gifts given to us so we’ll have more peripheral characters for our books.
It’s not all bad, of course. People can be funny and inspiring. The other night, while Maureen Milliken and I were flogging our wares at Brunswick’s Second Friday, many marvelous people came by. The tall, imposing woman who’d just moved to Maine approached our table like we were a treat and eagerly bought books. There was a charming young girl, too young to read our books, who confessed that she was a playwright. We got to welcome so many people who had just moved to Maine and who were so happy to be out enjoying a beautiful evening. (Beautiful evenings this summer have been far too rare.)
I’ve had a lot of fun pitching my mother’s second book, The Corpse in the Compost, which she wrote when she was in her eighties.
So yes, I’ve been sighing in the rain as my garden is flattened and the few things still standing are being eaten by a small red bug I’ve never seen before. And of course I can channel that gloom into Joe Burgess, who is rather a grump fellow. I can also remind myself that since I can’t be outside working, I should be at my desk writing. But then you remind me, if you’re following this blog, that I am supposed to be taking the summer off. Oh. Right. So I should change the title above to: Reading in the Rain.
Not outside, of course.
I’ve been loading my kindle with books. Downloading audio books to listen to in the car. My husband and I just finished The Once and Future King and now we are on the fourth Mick Herron Slough House book. The plots may plod along and be a bit thin at times but his use of language is so marvelous I am green with envy. Unless that’s mildew from all the rain?
So writing. Reading. Fog watching. What else? Well, summer in Maine means guests. And guest means reading cooking blogs and cookbooks to find interesting things to cook. This weekend’s greatest hit was a corn, farro, and coconut milk dish topped with fried onions. https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/creamed-corn-and-grains Next week I am looking forward to trying some salads from Deb Perlman’s Smitten Kitchen. https://smittenkitchen.com The strawberry jam is made and at the end of the month we will have a family blueberry picking day in my field and there will be more jam. Plus pie. Plus probably a number of other desserts from the Union Fair Blueberry Festival recipe brochure my mother wrote many years ago.
How do you spend your summers? Are you gardeners? Hikers? Boaters? Campers? And what are the books in your TBR pile? Anything that you are telling your friends are must reads? There’s still space on my kindle. My bedside pile. My bookshelves.