Kage Baker, as I have mentioned, largely felt that February was a write-off month. The major winter holidays were over, it wasn’t Spring enough to go camping or run around a lot, and it was often the coldest month of the year. She tended to cocoon and pupate into a new year’s model of butterfly.
She always threw a commemorative feast for George Harrison’s birthday on the 25th: an excuse for eating lamb chops (which were that gentleman’s favourite food before he became a vegetarian) and listening to Beatles’ music for a day and a night. Some years, the drifts of incense smoke were as thick as the spring fogs out on Highway 1, and the house smelled of frankincense and hyacinths for days. But that was usually the most exciting thing that happened all month.
Most of the time she spent working on notes or slogging through difficult bits of the current book project. The difficult bits always seemed to arrive in post-December cold; that was when she had to force herself to write. Kage was very sensitive to cold, evidently being intended to live in a volcano vent, like a salamander – in February, she’d hunch over her computer, legs wrapped in lap robes, typing grimly away with fingers slowly turning blue. This, mind you, while the fireplace was lit and the heater blared, and I was across the room barefoot and in a T-short, sweating to death … but that was always when deadlines loomed and the plots got sticky. And Kage got cold.
When it became impossible to write, it was time for research and brainstorming. Brainstorming at home was almost always an evening activity: we’d turn out all the lights except for my Lava Lamps – designated by Kage as The Official Lamps of The Weird – and then we’d talk all night. There’s a major portion of every one of Kage’s novels that was hashed out by firelight and glowing purple blobs … she used to claim her synapses would fall into synch with the pattern of the blobs in the Lamps, her thoughts waxing and waning and copulating and mutating like the molten goo and glitter in the convection currents of hot oil.
But sometimes, brainstorming was an in-flight activity on long drives. We might drive in a huge circle all weekend long just to keep the conversation going. Once weekend we went out for a picnic breakfast on Saturday morning and didn’t make it home again until Monday night. A lot of Hellfire At Twilight came out of that. And I learned to knit cables.
Anyway, February is almost over now. I can feel a chilled winter lassitude fading, like ice going transparent on a frozen river just before it breaks up. I am hoping for some useful, fertile flooding to occur.
In the meantime, the sequel to The Ladies of Nell Gwynne has been completed and sent to the agent. I am working on Linn’s first edits and suggestions. I still have a stalled plot with incompetently rogue nuns and a spreading plague. And a few stories may be stirring, things Kage worked on and told me several times … there are ghosts in wetsuits in the waters off Ocean Beach. A new bride is about to flee Troon and end up in Konyn Fey as a widow. There’s this deaf guy with a theremin and a laser.