Camp NECon (what a wonderful writer's conference!); have published with former and now current companies (my latest novel, The Duke and the Deadbeat a recent example); and I've found my way once more to the magical destinations that existed before my world went spinning out of orbit in 2010. With orbital reference points reestablished and the world back on its proper axis in 2012, two weeks ago I voyaged to one of those places that has haunted me since my first visit, Crackskulls Cafe in Newmarket, New Hampshire.
I did a reading as part of the All Things Outloud performance held there in August of 2009, and instantly fell in love with the used bookstore/homemade ice cream stand/literary venue. That night, three years and untold light years behind me, I read the opening to my long short story, "Wine and Spirits: A Tale of Substance Abuse and the Supernatural" (which would be published on its first foray out in the beautiful collection of hard-boiled horror tales, Darker Than Noir). The insanely awesome decor, such as the art instillation above -- an antique typewriter suspended on the wall with appropriate literary accoutrements -- connected with my psyche in indelible strokes. A version of the cafe (which also serves incredible fair-trade coffee and homemade bagels) appears in Duke as The Dewey Decibel. Earlier that same night, I started a short mystery, "The Thief of Markham Square," camped on one of the comfortable padded benches, with my iced coffee and a commitment to bring home some of their fantastic ice cream. I also left with thoughts of the used musical instruments, shelves of books, and upbeat, creative vibe, longing to return.
Space:1999 on my laptop (the following morning, inspired to the Nth, I would begin my 1999 novel, Metamorphosis, my 1000th work of fiction). Wandering through the stacks, I found a copy of Marcia Golub's hilarious and brilliant I'd Rather Be Writing, a nugget of gold that I instantly snagged. And my good friends, Douglas Poirier and Philip Perron had similarly productive results.
If I lived closer, Crackskulls Cafe is the wonderful sort of place where I would write my days away, an iced coffee on the table beside my laptop, notepad, and fountain pen. But on this other side of 2010, returning there filled me with energy and inspiration, that one visit almost like coming home. I can't wait to go back!