And with it my first published story in two years. Go. Read. (It’s free.) Then, if you missed it and if you like, there’s a bit of background on “The Garden of Sons and Husbands” here.**
* Or so they say. I am not so sure. El-Niño-birthed weather patterns mean it’s been dismal in the southern Willamette Valley: grey, chilly, rainy—oh, the rain. Until this week there hasn’t been a stretch of more than four days without it since December, I think, and I don’t trust the current sunny respite.
Or maybe I’m just still in a dismal, wintry mood, unable or unwilling to appreciate the springiness in the air. Because the truth is the winter 2015-16 was thoroughly unpleasant. I was sick, so sick, from mid-December until…well, officially I’m mostly recovered and convalescing on schedule but I wouldn’t say I’m well. A few words: Pneumonia. Pleurisy. Empyema. Three weeks ago I was in hospital with a tube in my chest and IV fluids and antibiotics dripping into my veins. Since then I’ve had a fancy catheter in my right arm for the daily outpatient infusion of yet more weapons-grade antibiotics—scheduled to come out this afternoon. Finally, thank merciful and compassionate God, I’ll be able to take a shower.
So, yeah. It’s been ugly and I have accomplished little these four months besides attempting to regain my health.
So there’s my excuse for not posting anything here since early December.
And here, because we could all use some cheering up and my deck garden has been performing in despite of the weather, some photos of flowers. Flowers are good.
** [That fourth 2015 story meant to be completed by New Year’s? Ha ha, no, alas. I was allowed a generous deadline extension but even so. Stupid narrative chose to become complicated and to address issues far outside the brief. Perhaps I’ll finish it one day, perhaps not, but in any case it won’t appear in the intended anthology.]
Envious, no doubt, of Miss Charlotte Brontë’s harrowing ordeal as reported in the previous post, Miss Jane Austen did her own thing last night. With my unwitting, careless, stupid aid. That is, I came in from a cigarette or something, washed a few dishes, then noticed Charlotte nosing at the deck door. Which moved. Even from the kitchen I could see it move. Good god, Jeffers, hadn’t you learned your lesson?
So I hurried over to latch it securely. Then noticed Jane wasn’t immediately visible. She tends not to hide as often or effectively as Charlotte. I did a fast reconnoiter of the apartment and down the dark stairs to the bathroom and front door. No sign of the irritating cat. I ventured onto the deck with the not-so-trustworthy flashlight, closing the door securely behind me.
The deck faces east. Beyond the railing on the south side, toward the property’s main house, there’s a stretch of corrugated fiberglass below where the roof over the kitchen slopes down (see photo). Brazen as you please, Jane stood there, looking over her shoulder at her outraged, worried human. I asked her to come to me. Insouciant, she declined: went to investigate the foot-high, foot-deep crevice under the eave. She spent some five minutes poking and sniffing and ignoring me.
I sat down, still making polite requests that she give over being an intrepid explorer. Eventually, Jane made a move toward me. She came through the rail onto the deck. Slowly, carefully, I stood, saying something to the effect of “Jane, oh, Jane, you don’t really want to be out here at midnight, wouldn’t you like to come back inside with me?” Naturally, she wouldn’t. I must have moved too quickly because she darted past me and through the railing on the north side, onto the slope of the roof over the bedroom.
Damned cat. She skittered about a bit up there before becoming fascinated by a disused chimney that I don’t know what it was ever meant to vent. She climbed it! And sat up there another ten minutes.
I told her she was wicked. I told her she was not doing my poor heart any favors. I told her I couldn’t handle this kind of shenanigans twice in a week and a half. I told her Charlotte wasn’t actually my favorite, that I loved the two of them equally, and I would be desolate if she didn’t come inside RIGHT NOW.
I looked away. When I trained the flashlight on the chimney again she was gone. A moment later, I heard a thump behind me on the corrugated bit: she’d gone up the roof and around the living room’s big gable, come down on the south side again. I rushed to that railing, calling frantically.
Fruitlessly. Jane gave me a jaundiced eye over her shoulder, then neatly leapt onto the roof of the main house. “Jane!” I called.
The brave adventuress turned her thoughts east, stalking the length of that roof, then south over the peak and out of sight. My heart was going ka-thunk. I needed a cigarette.
She did not reappear for a good long while (probably not as long as it felt to me). Every now and again I’d scan the flashlight over the other house’s empty roof. I talked to her, repeating nearly verbatim entreaties made to missing Charlotte far too recently.
I heard a thump, uncomfortably distant, as of cat feet hitting a hollow surface from some height. From where I stood I could just see a little patch of flat roof over the carport south of my kitchen window. “Jane,” I called, “where are you, what are you doing?”
Like an actress, she moved into the wavering spotlight and glared at me from the carport roof, her eyes making laser beams. “Jane,” I said, “I can’t get to you over there. Won’t you come home?”
Again she turned away.
“Jane,” I said, despairing, “you’re giving me palpitations and I can’t deal any longer. I hope you have the sense not to follow Charlotte’s example and try to get down to ground level but there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m going to fetch some food and water to put out here for you, then go back inside to cuddle Charlotte and weep.”
Water first. I set the bowl down where she could find it, then cast a hopeless glance over the corrugated bit.
Jane stalked casually around the corner.
I said nothing.
She approached. “There’s water right there if you’re thirsty,” I said.
She slipped through the railing, back onto the deck half a yard from me. Furious, I made a grab.
I was going for the scruff of her neck but the stupid animal wouldn’t keep still and what I got was the base of her tail. Oh, did that make her angry! Fearful for my skin’s integrity, I somehow got her scruff with the other hand as she spat and yowled and hissed and flailed with her monstrous claws.
And then the wailing banshee was inside again where she belongs, enraged and (I suppose) terrified. When I dropped her to my mother’s spectacular Persian tree-of-life rug, she couldn’t get away fast enough—dashed down the stairs into the dark, yelling to raise all the devils in hell.
I went away for a week. A road trip with my sister to the Monterey Peninsula of California. The occasion was the annual spring garden-party fundraiser for the Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation, which maintains and preserves the house my grandfather built, where we grew up. We met up with our elder brother, who keeps a pied-à-terre in Monterey, as well as his son, whom I hadn’t seen in (we determined) some twenty years, our youngest brother, and his wife. The garden party—and exploring Carmel-by-the-Sea for the first time in twenty-odd years, discovering how drastically it’s changed for the worse—was a bit much for me and I fell apart some on the drive back to my sister’s house in Roseburg this past Tuesday. Fighting a persistent headache and mild PTS on the road, I contemplated the post I would write after I got to Eugene—although it would mostly be photos of childhood house-, garden-, and landscapes (I took a great many photos). That post and those photos may yet appear but not just now.
There were two options for care of Misses Charlotte Brontë and Jane Austen while I was gone. My brother-in-law, staying home in Roseburg, offered them the guest room and his supervision. That would require a traumatic hour-long ride in the car, though, as well as being locked up in a room my ladies were happy to leave behind last autumn.
Less disruptive to their peace of mind, I felt, was to ask the tenant in the main house here, who keeps up the impressive vegetable garden below my second-floor deck, to come up every day or two to top up Jane and Charlotte’s water and food bowls. Jon agreed to do so. I didn’t ask him to do anything about my container garden on the deck—it seemed an excessive imposition, the long-range forecast predicted episodes of rain, and I figured the plants could make it through. (Spoiler: they did.) But if I had asked, I would surely have remembered to tell Jon the latch on the French door to the deck is tricky and not to be trusted.
It was not at all surprising, when my sister and I finally tromped up my stairs mid-morning on Wednesday, that neither cat showed her face. They’re even more poorly acculturated and distrustful of strangers than I. Their litter boxes were well used and there were tufts of Charlotte’s fur all over the dining table: I had asked her any number of times not to sleep there. Speaking to the air, I told them I was home at last and the terrifying ogre with me (my sister) wouldn’t stay long.
I’d picked up a handsome lavender at a nursery in Carmel Valley—my seventh variety, Lavandula x. heterophylla—and carried it out to the deck, meaning also to show my sister the nasturtiums I’d started from seed for her own deck back in Roseburg. Jon was in the garden below. He called up, concerned, to ask if I’d seen my cats.
I said no but that I wasn’t worried because I knew them, but he went on to say he’d wandered onto my deck the day before. He knew he’d closed the door behind him but when he came up that morning he’d found it open. Of course he hadn’t seen Charlotte or Jane (I’d warned him he probably wouldn’t) but he was worried they might have ventured out.
I waved his concern off. Both cats had been out on the deck a few times, I told him. Both had discovered how easy it was to gain the roof and clamber around exploring but neither, I felt, was daring enough to attempt an eight- or ten-foot leap to the ground. In any event, the fault was mine: I hadn’t told him about the door.
Jane poked her head up from her hiding place under the bed when we came back inside and hissed at us. I took that as a sign all was well, and my sister and I went off to do a little shopping—there’s no Trader Joe’s in her town! Returning after an hour or so, we startled Jane again, who hissed, snarled, retreated under the bed. Still no sight of Charlotte, but she’s always been the more timid of the two and the better at hiding. We poked around a bit—there’s an opening to the space under the eaves behind one of the kitchen counters, inaccessible to full-size human people, a hidey-hole Charlotte’s taken advantage of before—before deciding she was unlikely to show herself so long as the ferocious ogre remained. So I sent the ogre on her way, assuring her that even if Charlotte had ventured outside and onto the roof overnight she would surely come down once she realized I was home and the apartment empty of other monsters.
Only she didn’t.
Still not terribly worried, I set out food and water on the deck to remind her of the comforts of home and puttered a little, overwatering the pots and talking to Charlotte, telling her how wicked she was but that all would be forgiven as soon as she showed her face.
Going back inside, I searched more concertedly, even going down on my belly to stick my head and a flashlight into the space beneath the eaves. No Charlotte. By this time Jane had regained her form, following me around, so I cuddled her for a while, asking vainly where her sister had gone. Jane is not fond of Charlotte and wouldn’t tell me.
By now it was nearly sunset. I wrote my sister a plaintive e-mail—
Not to keep you in suspense: no sign of Charlotte yet. I’m relatively sure at this point she’s not in the apartment. If she stayed on the roof I’m sure she’ll show up eventually; I’ve put food and water on the deck to encourage her. If she got down to ground level somehow…I just don’t know. She has no reason to understand the door is her door. I’m just going to take a walk around the neighborhood before it gets dark, and then I’ll post something on craigslist.
—and indeed walked around the block and the back forty calling, then put up a missing cat notice on craigslist. Jane had taken to yelling at me. Her meow is strident and piercing and thoroughly unnerving. Whenever I went downstairs to the bathroom she followed and yelled outside the door. After dark she sat on the chair by the deck door, periodically shouting while staring at the door. Every time I jumped up and checked, but no Charlotte. Despairing, I put bowls of food and water outside the front door just in case, prepared a dinner I couldn’t taste, and went to bed. Jane snuggled me all night, not as much comfort as it should have been.
Thursday morning I was half-relieved to discover the food bowl by the front door empty. Only half-relieved because it could have been any of the local outdoor cats or the two opossums I’ve seen fossicking around Jon’s garden at twilight. I put out more food and water anyway. Jane was still yelling every time I moved. I was a wreck. Luckily some work had piled up while I was away, providing distraction for most of the day. I alternated cigarette breaks on the deck, in the carport and driveway downstairs, and the back forty, calling Charlotte and telling her how much I missed her and how worried I was.
After another difficult night with only Jane to cuddle (she was somewhat more amenable to the indignity than usual), on Friday my brother-in-law drove up to Eugene for his weekly life-drawing sessions at Maud Kerns Art Center. He took me out to lunch to buck me up and offered advice gained from nearly forty years of slavery to indoor-outdoor cats. Crucially, as it turned out, the suggestion that a frightened cat would go to ground during the day so daylight searching wasn’t likely to succeed. Hypothetical frightened cat would more probably venture out at evening and night.
I waited impatiently for sunset. It comes too late at this season and latitude! (Not at all a thing I object to under other circumstances.) At twilight I tried again, going up and down the driveway and around back of the house, calling my runaway until despair made me cry and I had to retreat indoors to appease Jane, yowling inside the front door.
Around 11:30 I took my cigarettes, ashtray, and a sorely ineffective flashlight out to sit on the bench by the front door. I talked to Charlotte while I smoked, though I’d nearly given up hope. Anxious and antsy, I walked up the driveway to the street. Coming back, I heard a noise: Charlotte’s inimitable call, half cough, half bark—no meow about it and never loud enough to hear from any distance.
Falling to my knees on the tarmac, crying ugly tears, calling her, I turned the flashlight toward the noise. She sauntered into the flashlight’s anemic beam from the direction of Jon’s front door, talking all the while. But wouldn’t come to me. I knew better than to lunge. In the most ordinary circumstances Charlotte’s prone to bolt if I move too suddenly. Five feet away, she turned aside into the lumber of…lumber and set-aside patio furniture and I don’t know what stacked untidily along one side of the carport, vanishing from the flashlight’s ken.
But still talking, as I kept talking. After five minutes at this impasse, I told her I was so relieved and happy she was alive and mobile, so anxious and heartbroken she wouldn’t come to me that I needed a cigarette and maybe she’d relent and approach me if I retreated to the bench by the door.
No such luck. I kept talking, Charlotte kept answering—preoccupied and grumbly—and Jane inside the door caterwauled. While I smoked anxiously I fiddled with the flashlight, trying to get it brighter. Somehow I succeeded (the battery contacts hadn’t been tight enough until I unscrewed and screwed the cap three times?) and returned to the pile of junk. There she was, half-hidden by a length of wooden lattice, just her back and thrashing tail, no more than a foot and a half from me.
Murmuring soothingly, I reached around the lattice and got hold of her scruff. She was not happy to be hauled out of her hiding place, hugged, and wept over. Inside at last, she scratched my arm viciously until I let her down, then disappeared under the bed, grunting and cackling with fury.
Eventually—after I’d called Roseburg, waking my brother-in-law with the news—around 1:00 AM, she emerged, hopped onto the bed, and allowed me to make friends again. Never have an extremely loud purr and a tummy snarled into mats and dreadlocks (I promised I wouldn’t attempt brushing her for a few days) been more comfort. She even stayed on the bed all night, something she never does, if not right at my side. That space was occupied by jealous Jane, who has mostly stopped yelling at me, thank merciful and compassionate God.
::goes to install hook-and-eye fastener to deck door::
Three and a half months since my last post. Wow. I never intended it and it doesn’t feel that long. The calendar says so, though: the calendar and the season, which—here in Eugene—is pretty definitely spring although people where I used to live are still digging out from under Snowpocalypse ’15. (Can’t say I’m sorry to have missed that.) The calendar, the season, the randy neighborhood frogs ribbitting all night long, and my beard.
Yeah, laugh if you want, I’m growing a fancy big beard. I never believed I could! One of the tragedies of my genetic heritage—I’ll never go bald up top but never have sufficient hair elsewhere to please me. But maybe I was wrong! (Not about my chest, dammit.) This selfie is actually a month old: there’s more to the thing now. I’m going to stick flowers in it like an Instagram hipster. And there will be flowers.
The crocuses in the wooden planter are nearly over and the dianthus above too heavy but I planted a bunch of flower seeds that ought to poke their tiny green heads out of the soil any day now. Lobelia, love-in-a-mist, sweet alyssum, sweet peas, nasturtiums. Iceland poppies and cosmos to come when I pick up a suitable planter—maybe later today. All suitable candidates. So, you know, I’m generally pretty cheerful right about now despite badly screwed-up sleep patterns and a sinus infection that will not quit.
Reasons to be cheerful:
Mr ’Nathan Burgoine was a vocal Liam fan long before I completed That Door Is a Mischief so I’m p.r.e.t.t.y well convinced this complimentary review isn’t all down to my naming a couple of characters after him (and killing ’em both off)…or dedicating the book to him.
I’d never even heard of Big Gay Horror Fan before my attention was drawn to this review. It made me smile.
Mr Jerry L. Wheeler of Out in Print has been kindly disposed toward my work in the past but I kind of wondered whether he had too many review copies in his queue to squeeze my new one in. I was wrong. And pleased.
Oh, and there’s a gentleman who calls himself Constant Reader when he ventures into the swamp of the Amazon. (I know his real name. He’s been writing me kind letters and e-mails about my fiction for, goddamn, nearly twenty years. And I, I fear, am a rotten return correspondent.) Just recently he took it into his head (to cheer me up) to post extremely thoughtful reviews in aforementioned swamp. So far he’s hit three, including the very first review ever of the M-Brane Press Double of which half is my The New People; Deprivation; and The Padişah’s Son and the Fox. Thank you, sir.
Mr Ivri Lider (him again, you say) released his new studio album, Ha’ahava Ha’zot Shelanu [This Love of Ours], last month. I was briefly too broke to justify purchasing it—a tragedy of epic proportions—but now it’s on endless repeat on my iTunes. It strikes me as his most varied, accessible, and foot-tapping group of tracks since Ha’anashim Ha’chadashim [The New People] but what do I know, I don’t understand a word of Hebrew. Anyway, it makes me happy. Word is his side project, the ¥oung Professionals, will have a new album out soon as well. Those lyrics will be English, I expect.
The black widow in the corner of my bathroom (I’m convinced it’s a black widow) hasn’t bitten me yet. Nor Curious Jane, who follows me downstairs nearly every time. You can bet I’m keeping that door closed. I had forgotten how much more creepity-crawly indoor fauna there is on the West Coast than in New England.
It’s not expected to rain today.
I’m writing again.
Least likely for last, eh? I have a new novel in mind. First chapter-plus and a good bit of background material composed since early February. I’m not prepared to say much about it yet—so the in progress tab up top will continue to default to Bedtime Stories for the Boy Himself, Perhaps, a worthy project returned to the trunk again—except that the working title is The Goblin’s Bride, it starts out in Eugene (right here in a version of this very apartment!), and the lead character is a girl. A young woman, I mean—she’s seventeen in chapter one. For the moment her name is Helen.
I’ve been quiet, yes. It turns out I remain as stupidly sensitive to inclement weather as ever, even after a transcontinental move and while continuing to take my meds. The weather turned inclement just about the time I installed the cats and myself in our new home. What did I expect? It’s fall, edging into winter, in the PNW. At any rate, my get up and go has been…spotty.
For the record, I define clement weather as merciless sunshine, 75+°F. Yeah, I know, I should have moved to Costa Rica.
the last rose
Not the last ever, or at least I hope not. The last of the year from my little deck garden, cut and photographed a few weeks ago before frost could turn it to mush. Because it was cold in Eugene that week, really damn cold. Not like the Midwest, granted, or even New England, but I’m out of practice. Thank merciful and compassionate God I wasn’t so stupid as to discard my gloves, coats, or longjohns when I packed to move west.
The forced paperwhites in the blue pot behind the rose are presently a yard high and blooming ferociously, while the other pots contain tender perennials brought indoors for the winter. Clockwise from top right: so-called French lavender (Lavandula dentata); lemon verbena; the last survivor of my collection of scented geraniums, Lady Plymouth; and Goodwin Creek Grey lavender, a cross between dentata and angustifolia (so-called English lavender, of which I have two varieties still on the deck).
My brother and brother-in-law helped me move the last of the furniture from storage just before the end of October. These were pieces I couldn’t handle all by myself—inherited antiques that never made it into the Rhode Island apartment because they wouldn’t go up the narrow, twisty staircase and which I basically hadn’t seen, let alone sat on, for a decade. It’s lovely to have them again.
Now if I could just get it together to finish organizing kitchen and bedroom….
That Door Is a Mischief has received a few reviews since pub date in September. I’m particularly grateful to Hilcia at Impressions…of a Reader, who suffered a devastating loss too recently and yet has continued to read and review. She expanded a bit on her mini-review in a November wrap-up. Novelist Ajax Bell published a review on her blog that made me blink and shiver. Discovering one’s work has affected somebody so strongly is sobering. Surprising me, Lambda LiteraryreviewedThat Door only a month and half after publication (they don’t have an especially good history with me, spec fic, or Lethe Press).
Writer N.S. Beranek, whose story followed mine in Best Gay Romance 2014, embarked on a major project back in January, reviewing a short story a day for the entire year. I hadn’t been following her posts regularly but it turns out she’s covered five (!) of my stories so far—a couple nobody’s noticed—with perception and tact.
I ventured back to Roseburg for the holiday. I was thankful my sister chose to cook duck instead of turkey (I’m not fond of turkey), and it was lovely duck with lovely accompaniments, and an all-around lovely visit. Even though it rained the whole time. The Roseburg cats remembered me: Fritz was very happy when I ventured outside to fondle him (well, to smoke), Jüppsche and Cecelia were their usual genial (Jüpp) and skittish (Celia) selves, and beautiful Apollonia deigned to visit me in bed. Didn’t stay long—apparently my hip is too boney to make a comfortable pillow—but I was charmed and honored.
Ha ha ha. Well. Maybe. The conclusion to a longish story from the Kandadal’s world, begun in September ’12, is nearly solid in my head, but getting the words down is the usual frustration and battle. And there’s some stuff floating around that might cohere into my first science-fiction story since “The Arab’s Prayer” in 2010 (published ’11).
Mr Ivri Lider (I do go on about him, don’t I?) has a new studio album due in February. In the last few weeks he’s dropped two tracks onto YouTube and the usual online marketplaces. I like them both. A very great deal.
Since the Event of Late June, my sister and her husband have been incomprehensibly generous—most obviously by providing cheerful, unstinting hospitality to me and my cats for two months. But the day of Jane and Charlotte’s parole has arrived.
That is, they will be released from inhumane (to their minds) confinement in a perfectly spacious and comfortable guest room, bundled into their travel cages, and chauffeured seventy miles north, from the Umpqua Valley to the Willamette Valley and their new home. I have myself been making that round trip nearly every day for a week, shuttling stuff from storage into the apartment. Nearly everything has been moved, although nearly nothing is in its proper place and I will be without home internet access for a period unpredictable except to the sellers/packers/shippers of the Wi-Fi hotspot device ordered a week ago. It is to be hoped I can track down a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi in the neighborhood to feed my addiction in the interim.
Not that I won’t have more useful tasks to occupy my time. Besides unpacking and rearranging and cleaning my god (the glass of all my framed art is filthy) and settling myself and coaxing the cats to come out from under the bed. Such as gardening.
This being but the start of my balcony garden: a miniature rose (fragrant, astonishingly), two varieties of lavender, chives, and French tarragon. Since added but not yet repotted, a third variety of lavender, another mini rose, and more herbs. It’s been too long since I’ve been able to get my hands dirty in honest soil.
Yet every change has its sadnesses. Although they won’t be far—certainly not a transcontinental distance—and they drive up to Eugene frequently, I will miss my sister and brother-in-law’s everyday support, conversation, and good humor—my sister’s fabulous cooking—their lovely house in the hills above Roseburg—their cats. Jüppsche took to me almost at once, with his turtledove purr and sinuous, elegant whiteness. Black Fritz was harder to convince—Tragic Fritz, I called him, for his heartrending “Love me!” cry—but I will miss our pre-dawn assignations on the deck. Calico Cecilia eventually warmed sufficiently to recline on the sofa back and read the iPad over my shoulder. Gorgeous tortoiseshell Apollonia remains reserved but not unfriendly. I do hope I won’t be a terrifying stranger again next time I darken their door.
So…a bittersweet and grateful adieu to Roseburg, and off to new adventures in Eugene.
New Microsoft operating system? Ha ha, no. I try to live a largely Microsoft-free life.
New digs in Eugene, Oregon, for Misses Charlotte Brontë and Jane Austen…and yr humble seruant, if they permit such indignity. (They’d better.)
The move in will begin this coming Friday. It is likely to be protracted, partly because of a previously planned overnight trip that weekend, partly because I’ll remain based in Roseburg for a bit, sixty miles (ninety-six kilometers) south, partly because nearly everything that needs to be moved in is already in storage not far away so I can take my time. Nevertheless, I expect to drag the kicking and screaming cats north sometime next week—new windows to peer through! New corners to explore! More space! Stairs to run up and down! No worrisome human or feline strangers just outside the door!
After a very long time—or so it seems—my third novel, That Door Is a Mischief, is just about to go to press. As any thoughtful writer will tell you a book is never actually finished but this one’s about as done as I can make it before the announced publication date. Long stretches of the last three days have been preoccupied with going through the proof one last time (pruning commas, mostly) but this morning, resigned, I created final files for the printer.
So. That announced publication date is 15 September. Possibly the print edition will go on sale a bit earlier. For complicated reasons beyond Gentle Publisher’s control, I’m afraid the e-books will be delayed, maybe as long as a month. Apologies to them as prefer their books readable but not touchable.
Advance reaction has been gratifying. Well, there was a rather negative review in one of the industry’s trade journals. I’m not about to link to it but, truthfully, I found it amusing. The underpaid anonymous reviewer misunderstood what I was doing partway through and ran with that misunderstanding, irredeemably distorting her reading of the novel’s latter half. These things happen.
But other pre-pub readers have been outrageously complimentary. You can see the flyleaf blurbs on the dedicated page linked above but these two I especially treasure:
Melissa Scott—“In this story of a fairy child adopted into a gay family in our own world, Jeffers slides seamlessly between impossible and all too probable, creating both in luminous, extraordinary prose. This is a novel of aching love and perfect loss, amazing and utterly unforgettable.”
Jeff Mann—“What a beautiful, beautiful book this is: haunting, romantic, powerful, and perverse. Alex Jeffers is an amazing storyteller and a master stylist.”
And so, what else has Jeffers been up to since last seen in these parts?
Not writing, I am not acutely sorry to say. These past two months it’s seemed more crucial to learn (or learn again) how to be a proper person with a loving family, caring friends, and benevolent acquaintances. Working a little, relaxing and reading a lot, seeing the sights, devouring my sister’s delicious meals. Comforting my own dear Charlotte and Jane, locked up together (horrors!) because they, unlike the resident familiars, have never been indoor-outdoor cats and are very poorly socialized. Gradually making friends with said resident cats and marvelling at the chickens (and rooster!). Opening a local bank account. Briefly succumbing to extravagance after long deprivation: new dishes I didn’t really need, a grill pan I really did.
But tomorrow! Tomorrow I will begin searching in earnest for a place of my own…and then we’ll see.
I meant to post something about this before it happened. But events and procrastination got in the way, and then I was driving a rental truck across this very large nation. After not much in the way of adventures but a lot of time on the road and in motels with unhappy cats, Misses Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë and I are temporarily settled outside the pretty town of Roseburg in southern Oregon—with grateful thanks to my sister and brother-in-law (and their cats) for their generous hospitality.
Over the next few weeks I’ll start looking for a less ad hoc living situation in the larger town of Eugene, an hour north, more suitable for a fancy-free single fellow without a car. Sooner than that, doubtless, I will set up my actual computer so I can get some real work done—an iPad mini is a delightful toy but not much of a tool for the kinds of work I do.
Meanwhile here is a photo of Charlotte and Jane pretending to be good friends in their temporary abode.