Kage Baker maintained that we – she and I – shared a brain. She was left-handed, I am right-handed; together, she reasoned, we were one fairly competent brain.
Our friends and family, I think, were willing to accept the idea that it took the pair of us to make up one brain. It was generally considered that, on our own, neither one of us could find useful portions of our anatomy with both hands and a Google map.
I believe various parental units were astonished when Kage actually left home – not only because it hadn’t been expected she would, as they say now, launch; but because she was the first one to do so. It was always a source of wonderment to some older relatives as the years rolled on and we appeared to be successful adults – Momma, I know for a fact, thought we were more like Laverne and Shirley (or Thelma and Louise) and was always on alert for the moment when we’d get tired of “playing house” and end up in jail or an asylum or a convent. When Momma died, she made each of us promise to take care of the other. We’d at least won her confidence to the point where she believed we could manage as a team.
If nowhere else, that symbiosis was used in Kage’s writing. When she needed extra brain power, she claimed, all she had to do was hook up her own brain in sequence with mine. The brain storming that underlay every one of her novels and stories was how we did it. Long hours tossing ideas back and forth, trying out story lines and characters; psycho-babbling and taking parts and arguing imaginary histories and fantastic technologies until something cohesive arose stood free of all the murk.
“Like the primordial island rising from the retreating ooze of chaos,” I opined once.
“Eeeuw,” replied Kage. “Less ooze, more ideas, please.”
She was right, of course. Sticky icky horror was never anything she wanted to write. Even when she did break down and write a Cthulu pastiche, Pismo Beach and chowder and beach-front buskers got mixed in.
Anyway, running our two brains in harness was how Kage processed the final stages of research into writing. I have all the notes she wrote down from those sessions; I have all the memories of having done it in my mind.
And this last week, I’ve been trying to explain this in an interview with the charming Stefan Raets, of http://farbeyondreality.com/ . Stefan is a science fiction and fantasy reviewer, and has been interviewing me via email this week. He sends me well-thought-out questions, and has been very kind about accepting my verbose explanation of how Kage wrote. His focus has been largely on the “how and why”, and on Nell Gwynne and the Company series. It promises to be a very nice interview, and I’ll be happily blatting its publication date as soon as I know it.
It’s really made me think about how Kage did what she did, and how she included me. That matters an enormous lot to me, engaged now in trying to hack more of her stories out of the slowly-hardening wax of memory. (Hopefully with less purple prose than that last bit of description …) Consequently, Dear Readers, I am taking off this weekend and heading to Pacific Grove, where I shall immure myself in a Victorian B&B for a writing weekend. It’s what Kage used to do when she really needed to work, and it’s where we used to go for her to do it. I’ve finally worked up the courage to try it myself …
It’ll be weird as hell to be there without her. I’m fetching knitting, too, in case my Muse deserts me totally for the local bars. And the heroic Neassa is meeting me there, so I don’t just cut and run when faced with trying to write where Kage found so much inspiration.
I’ll let you know how it’s going, Dear Readers, as it goes along. In the meantime – keep your eyes peeled for Mr. Raets’ upcoming interview, and light a candle for Neassa’s patience.