My last shift at the observatory finished the night before the Tucson Steampunk Society was scheduled to meet at Antigone Books and discuss Eric Brown’s novel Jani and the Greater Game. I thought that sounded like a great excuse to spend some time with friends and maybe grab a bite to eat before driving home. I had purchased the book the week before and read it during my shift at the observatory. The novel tells the story of a young woman named Jani who is on her way home to India from England, when her airship is shot down by Russians. Jani soon learns that England gained its power in the world by exploiting a creature from another world. The stakes increase when Jani must work with that alien to help thwart an invasion. The book was a delight and I had the opportunity to share some updates about my forthcoming novel The Brazen Shark with the book society.
Once I finished dinner and walked around to my car, I discovered I’d inadvertently parked in the staging area for the Tucson All Souls’ Day Procession. It actually gave me the excuse to stay around and watch as the parade got ready to start. All Souls’ Day is a celebration remembering those who have departed, as well as a celebration of life itself. I stopped off at one of the vendors and had a sugar cookie shaped like a skull and crossbones and admired the costumes, floats and puppets assembled for the procession. It seemed a fitting transition into this week. Now that The Brazen Shark is turned in, I’m hard at work on The Astronomer’s Crypt.
What’s more, on the last night of my shift, we had some new observers at the telescope. One of them went down to the restroom and got lost on the way back to the control room. Fortunately, he called and we were able to direct him back. It turns out this almost exactly mirrored the incident that kicks off the action in the second part of The Astronomer’s Crypt. Fortunately, the power didn’t then go out and we didn’t have strange monsters and ghosts roaming the hall…at least that I know of!
Anyway, I mentioned the novel to the observers and they readily chimed in with what a spooky place the telescope is at night. One of them imagined a scenario of riding up in the elevator only to see an open door and someone standing outside the cage doors holding a severed head. That incident doesn’t happen in the novel, but it does go to show the kinds of things that go through your mind when working in a spooky, dark building!
Speaking of weird and wonderful things, I was a guest at Nicole Givens Kurtz’s blog this past week. Be sure to read my post entitled “Discovering the West, Weird and Real.” I discuss how living in the southwest and my love of anime has informed my steampunk writing. Also, be sure to drop by The Steampunk Journal, where you can read chapter one of Owl Dance in its entirety.