Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My New Hampshire Chronicle

(Miked for the camera -- and showing plenty of sweaty nostril on a day so
humid it was nearly impossible to breathe)
It started two weeks ago, when I gave an interview to our local newspaper, The Berlin Daily Sun (an abbreviated version of the article can be found here).  The feature, splashed over the front page and accompanied by a vibrant full-color photograph of me seated at my desk, eldest cat keeping company, circulated around our new home town -- and far beyond. So far, in fact, that on the following Tuesday, I received an email from Sean Mcdonald, a newscaster on WMUR-Channel 9/ABC in Manchester.  Sean pulls double-duty as host of our wonderful all-things-Granite-State lifestyle program, New Hampshire Chronicle.  He'd read the article on our move north to Xanadu, my body of work, and the founding of our new Berlin Writers' Group, and felt I would be a good subject for a Chronicle segment.  I was thrilled.  And a bag of nerves, which is so unlike me.

I've worked for Paramount Studios as a freelance writer, covered The X-Games, building demolition, and written a bazillion feature articles in which I've interviewed celebrities -- all of my childhood icons, in fact.  And though I rarely get star-struck or nervous anymore, I didn't sleep for more than a few minutes at a time the night prior to the day of taping.  Adding to the mix of nerves and exhaustion was the weather's shift from Arctic (it snowed up here the last week of May!) to Okefenokee.  Miserable humidity swamped our fair mountain town, making even the simplest of movements like wading through neck-deep water.

(With Chris, Chronicle cameraman extra-ordinaire, and the luminous
Sean Mcdonald)
As the Tuesday night writers' group has been such a dynamic part of life's new chapter here North of the Notches, at the last instant we pulled together an impromptu Monday meeting of the talented folks I count as friends and blessings. The first to arrive, Kyle Newton, helped set an energetic and uplifting tone that only grew as the rest of the gang wandered in, most with luscious desserts and finger foods in hand.  To commemorate the day, talented pal Judi Calhoun -- the next author feature to grace my blog -- not only brought brownies, but gorgeous hand-crafted journals for Bruce and me, and two silkscreened tees to enhance my literary couture wardrobe.  I'm wearing the one that proudly says, "Gregory Norris, Writer" as I write this post.  You couldn't meet nicer or read better than Judi-Beauty Calhoun!

Through the heat barrier, Sean Macdonald and Chris the Cameraman arrived, and from the start I knew the day would forever be memorable for many wonderful reasons.  The camera was set up, writers settled down in our volcanic living room, and we were asked to hold an impromptu version of our Tuesday night meeting some twenty-four hours early.  We went around the room and read short stories, synopsi, and back covers.  The camera recorded all of it.  Seated among us and soaking up the very good vibe, Sean conducted spot interviews.  Then good pal Jonathan Dubey, whose brilliant play Arthurian is being staged this summer, made a nifty suggestion: we all lined up with our published books in hand and, together in unison, said, "We're the Berlin Writers' Group -- and we'll tell you the story" for the camera.  It may or may not make it into the final cut.  Either way, it punctuated a wonderful dialogue between this vibrant creative community and our visitors.

(Taping Chronicle in my Writing Room)
Soaked in sweat, we then retired to my beautiful Writing Room, where we covered the full range of my life and career up until that balmy afternoon, June 24, 2013.  We discussed my humble beginnings as a strange and imaginative boy in Windham, New Hampshire, through my even stranger adulthood/second childhood here, in Berlin. We talked Space:1999 and Xanadu, Star Trek and Star Trek: Voyager; Sci Fi Channel, The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse and my newest book contract, its far-smaller sibling, Shrunken Heads: Twenty Tiny Tales of Mystery and Terror, forthcoming at the end of summer.  I showed him my files, shooting scripts (we improved a reading from the Voyager episode "Gravity" with he playing Tom Paris, me in the role of Tuvok; Sean aced it while I, clearly, need to stick to the writing side of the business).  At one point, I was asked to write on the spot.  I uncapped my favorite cobalt blue fountain pen, put it to paper, and spontaneously created a few powerful paragraphs that, later the same afternoon, got married to a project I'm working on behind-the-scenes.  And then they taped me standing outside in front of our beautiful new-old home among the hills, for a Trek-style beam-down, complete in post-production with strobing special effects.

This short documentary on my literary odyssey is scheduled to run in the not-too-distant future (updates to follow).  It was a lovely experience, the latest in a long list of fun and exciting adventures since uncapping my pen some thirty-three years ago when I first dared to dream big dreams -- and, more important, to chronicle them on paper.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Where I Write: 2013...and Beyond!

(seated at desk, with cat and the Summer 2013 copy of NH WRITER,
containing my feature article, "Dream On!")
Long ago, in a humorless house, I began to dream big dreams about bases on the moon and adventures far across the galaxy (and in the Inner Limits of my own backyard).  I dreamed about a 'Writing Room', where I would be surrounded by shelves filled with books, favorite artwork, and beloved family relics -- talismans, as I've since come to think of them.  That room, as imagined, was made reality in our first home, Blueberry Corners (a house based upon an enchanted cottage in the woods, from a novel I wrote when I was eighteen...a very long time ago!).  It emerged again in our next home, and the apartment we rented until March 2, 2013.  But until our arrival at the grand old lady in the White Mountains we purchased earlier this year, my home office always seemed a work-in-progress.  Not so now.  I have landed in my dream home, with its vast, ideal Writing Room.  Even in that far-ago time, I could not have dreamed of the inspiring work space I now enter daily, coffee cup in hand, Muse leaning over my shoulder.

The name on the door says it all.  "Writer" is one of the most powerful sobriquets a human being can claim.  The nameplate on the door was a gift from friends way-back-when, and while it has graced previous Writing Rooms, I never glued it in place.  I did so here.

We love bright colors, and after almost two years of builder beige and white walls, one of the first projects in our new home was to pull out the color wheel.  The cheerful, beachy-blue on the walls of my new home office is an homage to the bedroom in the house where I grew up -- and perfect for setting a happy and welcoming tone.   From the day I officially moved into my new Writing Room, it and I have enjoyed something of a renaissance.  Or a honeymoon.

The cabinet at left contains several thousand contributor copies -- mostly print magazines and binders filled with digital publications bearing my byline.  The comic book series I wrote for and some print anthologies share space behind the glass. The antique bronze horses are among the priceless family talismans that infuse the space with positive energy -- they occupy a mythological space in my formative years, as do my stuffed animals, many of which were crafted by my grandmother.  The book clock on top of the cabinet was a gift from three of the lovely ladies in my beloved Wednesday night writers' group.

The floor in this room is an antique knotty pine.  Another strange coincidence in that the same boyhood home with the blue bedroom walls (the predecessor to the miserable house of my teen years, when writing saved me) boasted knotty pine walls in the main part of the house.  When I was young, I would gaze into the knots, see faces, and my imagination wandered.  Four decades later, it hasn't ceased meandering.

At right, a section of the 'Muse Wall' -- autographs and photos of the many celebrities I've interacted with in my professional writing career.  Behind sliding glass doors and in various drawers and cubbies are my books, novels, collections, and anthologies containing my short fiction.  One drawer contains copies of my TV work, on VHS and DVD.

The Muse Wall.

An old telephone table, re-purposed to become home for the new printer, adds to the ease and functionality of the perfect literary Command Center.

The wall above my filing cabinets is covered with awards and mementos of my writing career.  Over the card catalog of as-yet-unwritten story ideas (which howl at me in the night to complete them!) is my letter of recommendation from Star Trek Voyager Creator and Executive Producer Jeri Taylor.

More of my favorite things -- press kits, almost a hundred press passes from events I covered, business cards, fountain pens, and objects that add to the ambiance of a creative destination that has seen an upsurge of energy and joy for writing since we landed in our beautiful new home, Xanadu.  One of our big house rules has always been to edit out anything that doesn't make us happy, anything we don't need or, most important of all, love.  And nowhere in Xanadu is this more apparent than my Writing Room where, in three short months, I have seen over twenty short stories, a novella, and a book accepted; where my pen has moved across the page and my fingers over the keyboard nonstop. Where new ideas and old get completed, and the dreams I dream are bigger and bolder than I thought possible.

To quote the movie from which our house earned her name, and my career sprung on a tempestuous August Saturday night in the summer of 1980, "Aah, inspiration...sounds perfect!"

I hope this tour of my Writing Room inspires you to keep creating!