Earlier this month I had the pleasure of speaking to Kenneth Schneyer’s Science Fiction Lit class at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. His students had read my Nebula-nominated story “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” for class and had discussed it prior to my visit. I spoke a bit about my path into writing and some of the adventures I’d had along the way, like my early class with Alice K. Turner, the formation of Sybil’s Garage, how I ended up publishing Paper Cities, which went on to win the World Fantasy Award. I spoke about how I became the co-host of Fantastic Fiction at KGB and how I became a member of Altered Fluid.
The students were great and very engaged, and they asked a lot of interesting questions. Here are a couple of shots of me speaking to the class.
Guest speaker action shot.
Action shot #2. Notice the expression! (And the sweater has come off; he must be serious!)
Ken & Me outside the classrooms
Christine and I stayed at the Christopher Dodge House, and old Bed and Breakfast just northwest of downtown. I chose our room because it had this little writing nook (and readers of this blog know how much I love finding great writing spots), where I worked on a new story in the mornings while the windows beaded with rain and I looked out at Providence’s many-gabled roofs across the street.
My little writing nook at the B&B
Here’s a photo of me outside the B&B right before we headed over to the university.
We spent the rest of the long weekend exploring Providence, which we’d never visited before. The first day we wandered down Benefit street with no particular plan. The sky was bleak and gray, and the air held a sharp chill. A thick fog hung over the streets, dropping beads of moisture on everything. It was the perfect weather to explore Providence’s old buildings and graveyards, places where both Poe and Lovecraft once haunted.
A building on Benefit Street
The Old Court B&B, rumored to be haunted. Would you sleep here?
Ye olde armory
A student center and cafe for RISD students
On Benefit Street
Some old colonials off of Benefit Street
Outside an Art Gallery that Lovecraft used to visit
So Chris and I began walking up this hill, and the crows were circling overhead, hundreds of them (seriously) cackling madly, and it was getting late in the day and there was no one around, and both of us started to get a little creeped out. And of course my reaction was, “Let’s get closer and check it out.” These pics are the result of that. I should have taken a video, just so you could hear the crows, but if you look carefully, you can see them in the photos. Perhaps you can imagine them cackling as we walked under this cold spring sky.
The creepy building on the hill
The crows, waiting
We walked around a bit more and I took some photos of the interesting buildings along the street.
An enormous old church, quiet as we passed
Looking through the shrubbery
The next day was quite a bit sunnier and warmer, and we explored Providence a bit more. I’m glad we did, because I got to visit the Athenaeum, an old public library where Poe supposedly met his wife. It was mostly filled with RISD students, but the library still had this air of mystery and antiquity to it. I imagined I might find some ancient tome here that could unlock the gates to bizarre dimensions beyond human ken. Or something.
The Athenaeum exterior
Inside the library
The bust of H.P. Lovecraft
View from a studying nook on the second floor
View from the second floor
A chair in the back, facing a thicket
Overall, Providence was a lovely city and I’d visit again in a heartbeat. I’ve heard the winters are hellacious, but part of me wishes to find a cozy writing nook somewhere in one of those old colonials, or perhaps inside the Athenaeum, and spend one winter hibernating and writing, writing and hibernating, until I emerge in the spring, much thinner, long of beard, and with a completed manuscript.