Thursday, September 04, 2008

Guest Appearance: Clea Simon, Author

Clea Simon was one of the first authors I thought of when considering who to ask to appear on my blog. I discovered her at the recommendation of author Karen E. Olson last year and have not looked back since. She shares my love for cats and music. What could be better than that?

Please welcome Clea Simon!

Last night, I heard a scary sound. I was walking home, having parked around the corner, and I heard a rustling. A dry, scratchy sound that made me start and then turn. The street behind me was empty, but a movement down low caught my eye. And I saw leaves. Dead, dried oak leaves, skittering across the pavement in the breeze. The ghosts of schooldays past.

No matter what the calendar says, it's autumn here in New England. Just two weeks ago, I was on the beach in Provincetown; the water is finally warm and swimmable in late August, and I had packed a load of beach reading (really well written historicals were my beach picks this year: D.J. Taylor's "Kept," Barry Unsworth's "The Ruby in Her Navel," Louis Bayard's "The Dark Tower," though I added Barbara Hambly's wonderfully woowoo "Those Who Hunt By Night" after finding it at a used bookstore in Provincetown). But now the weather has changed. If it's not officially fall, it is at least the "back to school" season.

Back to school? I just hit a major college reunion, and I've got no children to send me shopping for new pencils and lunch boxes. But really, isn't that what early September is about? That first bit of bite in the air; the woodsmoke smell of leaves. Time to wake up from our summer languor. Time to put aside the lighter fun reads and dive into nonfiction. Research and background. Because it is time to start new projects.

For me, this year, the seasonal shift is perfect. I finished revisions on my fourth mystery, "Probable Claws," right before vacation. And I used the week after – a sort of extended Labor Day – to clean my office and take care of various freelance pieces. So now I'm ready to get back to work.

But the season can be deceiving and a book takes longer to write than simply a few months. So which project do I want to work on? Does the beginning of the long, cold darkness mean that I should dive back into my more serious WIP, a rock and roll mystery that shuttles between 20 years ago and the present? Or does the crisp air mean I should be spending time with my somewhat brusque pet psychic, the heroine of "Dumb Beasts," a short story that will pub in November? Or should I be digging through the library, looking for new inspiration in musty books – or on long bike rides by the river? As these questions percolate, I have that pleasant nervousness that I remember from the first day of classes. Is my green suede bookbag as cool as I thought it was? Will I like my new heroine ... err, teacher? Will my old friends show up in my books, or my classes. Will I find new ones I love just as much?

Nothing for it, though. The days are marching on, skitttering like those leaves on the pavement. It's time to lay out my clothes, make sure all those pencils are sharpened. I want to take a deep breath of this new, chill air and hold it. To remember all the promise it once held and let it mean the same thing now. Autumn may not be here yet, but it's definitely back to school season. And that means, time to write.

So what does this new season mean for you? Are you switching your reading from chick lit to classics? Taking down the Gothic or the noir for those longer nights ahead? Is anyone else out there starting new projects? And what kind of bookbag do you have this year?

Clea Simon is the author of the Theda Krakow, a cat-loving, freelance writer mystery series. She is also the author of three nonfiction books: Mad House: Growing Up in the Shadow of Mentally Ill Siblings, Fatherless Women: How We Change After We Lose Our Dads and The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats.

can learn more about the author and her books at her website and on her blog, Cats & Crime & Rock & Roll.


  1. Wendy, thanks for bringing Clea Simon to us!

    My reading habit is still pretty much unpredictable but it's leaning towards the fantasy/supernatural/spooky genre.

    Have a lovely day!

  2. Thanks for commenting, Alice! I'm wondering if you found your current taste coming on as the days get shorter and cooler? To me, spooky sounds perfect for fall... Halloween and all that.

  3. I'm with Alice, my reading goes to spookier, darker reading in cooler weather. My light fluffies will come only in between heavier tomes. I'm about to order a "I read Banned Books" tote bag just because I can.

  4. Fall means it's time for me to buckle down and try to get somewhat caught up on my reviews because I like to read and watch Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas books and movies. I might just have to check out some of these books! Both of Simon's series sound interesting.

  5. Only one series, Ladytink, and a bunch of standalones - but thanks for the compliment! Excerpts on my site, if you want to browse without committing. And good for you, Mare! Let's all read a banned book in the build up to Banned Book Week (Sept. 27-Oct.4 - link on my blog).

  6. Hi Wendy! Hi Clea! I enjoy reading this post. :)

    Though we do not have four seasons here, I tend to read whatever that strikes my mood. Reading a dark fantasy or horror sounds extremely exciting for me especially towards Halloween... with the atmosphere and all that stuff.

    I haven't read any of your books, Clea, but I intend to do so soon. Thanks for sharing with us. :)

  7. Hi Clea! Great post! I like to read books that are more geared towards Halloween as we get closer to October, then for December I like books that are for Christmas or Thanksgiving related. Fall also means new TV shows for me, so I try to juggle it all.

  8. Hi Clea, am not too sure if that's the case because in Malaysia it's hot and humid all the way although it seems to be raining daily these days... But I do find myself attracted to that genre. Happy Halloween to ya all!

    Hi Mare! I'm very curious about your tote. Where do you get that? I am thinking of getting one for meself. LOL. I definitely don't mind shopping online. :D

  9. Thanks everyone for chiming in! Here in New England we definitely have four seasons – autumn here is wonderful, crisp and colorful. But spring is my favorite weekend of the year (joke!) "Cattery Row," the second Theda novel, has a lead-in-to-Halloween theme, by the way. Not that I'm pushing it : )

    Malaysia... wow... in two months, I'll be envying you deeply! I spent a little time in Bali and absolutely adored the climate. Melody, where are you?

  10. Clea, I'm from Singapore. :) Like Alice in Malaysia, our weather is hot and humid most of the times, but we've been having rain for the past few days, it's weird!

    Still, autumn remains my favourite season even though we don't have four seasons here... I want to experience the cool weather and watching the leaves change their colours! :D

  11. Hi Clea, I enjoyed your guest post. I'm waiting rather impatiently for autumn to arrive. Sadly it's still very much summer here in Japan. We do have 4 seasons but they seem very short compared to the long summer.
    But that hasn't stopped my reading taking a bit of turn to spooky and gothic lately. There's something about this season, even if it's only because the calendar says so, that makes me feel like reading something a bit chilling.

  12. Thank you for such a wonderful post, Clea! And thank you to all who commented.

    I have never been big on the whole spring cleaning idea--I'm more of a fall cleaning type of gal. It's when I really start feeling the need to get things in order. Although what I read doesn't really change with the seasons, I do take time to re-organize and update lists. It feels like a fresh start, anyway. :-)

    I wish fall would hurry up and arrive in my part of the world. Tomorrow it's supposed to be 102 out. It has been cooler the last couple of days though--a little tease before summer's final stand. That seems to be the pattern here every year.


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