As tired as I was, I didn’t sleep very deeply last night, and I was wide awake this morning by six thirty. Not a bad thing; I’ll probably sleep well tonight, and I am trying to get organized. The kitchen/work space is an absolute disaster area, and I am also doing laundry, having to put away dishes, and file and organize. I am going to be really tired later, but must stay awake and watch Twitter because tonight is THE EDGAR AWARDS, and I have so many friends nominated! I can’t BELIEVE how tense I am, and I’m not even up for anything!
No lie, but if I were ever an Edgar finalist, I would probably cry.
It’s lovely to be back home; this past week or so has literally been crazy. I’ve driven almost a thousand miles (yay for new car!) and had a really nice time reconnecting with my Southern roots. I am an Alabama boy; I used to joke that I still have red dirt between my toes. I love Alabama, and I love the South. But that love doesn’t mean that I also blind myself to the problems down here, and have actually spent a lot of my adult life trying to figure out ways to change things down here. But when you drive through Alabama and Mississippi, you can’t help but be blown away by how beautiful it is down here.
I’m also aware that I can be blown away by the natural beauty as I drive because I don’t have to worry about being pulled over for Driving While Black.
Alabama’s license plates, and welcome signs, all say “Alabama the Beautiful,” and it’s true. So many trees and forests, lush green grass, the sky is beautiful…and I feel so connected there. I always am inspired when I visit Alabama, or even just drive through it. I don’t write much about Alabama, but when I do, I feel like it’s some of my best work. Dark Tide is my only novel set in Alabama, and it’s one of my personal favorites. I do want to write about Alabama, and I do have an idea about how to turn what I consider one of my best short stories into a novel. I may do that next; we’ll see how I feel when I get finished with the current project. I am also leaning towards shelving the Scotty book for a while. I like the idea behind the book, but I don’t really think it fits Scotty. I’m also struggling to find his voice again, so I think it might be best to take a break from him for a while.
I had a lovely time at the Alabama Book Festival. Troy University and the volunteers and staff did a fantastic job, and Old Town Alabama (or is it Old Alabama Town?) is gorgeous. I really liked Montgomery a lot–it’s a charming little city–I just wish I hadn’t been so tired. I worked doing bar testing the night before I drove up, and as such I was tired the entire time I was there–not sleeping well in hotels had a lot to do with it as well. My panel went really well; Lachlan Smith is very perceptive, insightful and smart, and I look forward to reading his books. I started the first in his series, and was really enjoying it before I put it aside for Thirteen Reasons Why; I’ll get back to it when I finish Cleopatra’s Shadows. Our moderator, Jessie Powell, did a really great job as well, and we had a nice audience. It was also lovely to see Carolyn Haines and Dean James and Tammy Lynn from Wetumpka again, and I also got to meet some lovely people whose company I enjoyed tremendously.
I never thought I’d ever be liked in Alabama, frankly–gay writer of gay stories–but that was my own prejudices and buying into the notion that everyone in Alabama is prejudiced and bigoted. It’s easy to make that assumption; just as it is easy to make that assumption about Louisiana. There are progressives in the South; we’re just outnumbered, but we’re fighting the good fight against prejudice and bigotry and discrimination and hate. Sometimes it feels like we’re fighting all alone, and progressives lucky enough to live in states that are more progressive are more than willing to write us off all the time. (Thanks for that, by the way.)
And on that note, I need to get moving on the day and back to the spice mines.
Here’s a Throwback Thursday hunk for you, John Wesley Shipp from when he appeared on Guiding Light in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, and fueled many a fantasy of mine.