Sunday, February 10, 2019

A Weekend at the Crossroad

Author/Crossroad Press Founder & CEO David Niall Wilson
riles the crowd at the Page After Page Author Fest

Come lunchtime on Friday, I bolted out of Greensboro and set out for the most haunted and horrific Wilson House (a.k.a. Dave and Trish's residence) in Herford, NC. For this was the weekend of the Page After Page Author Fest in Elizabeth City, NC (see my blog entry from Wednesday, February 8), and we were all set to appear.

Actually, I first had to swing up to Martinsville, VA, to take care of business at my mom's. Then I hit the road for the most haunted and horrific Wilson House. I did stop for a number of geocaches along the way, and somewhere about Emporia, VA, I discovered what is surely one of the few Shoney's restaurants still in business. Back in the dawn of man, I worked as a fry cook at Shoney's in Martinsville. Their food was never exactly gourmet fare, but for old time's sake, I stopped for dinner, and I've gotta say, it was not bad at all. The HOP (half o' pound) hamburger steak was quite satisfying, as a matter of fact.
I really didn't know there were any of these left. The restaurants, I mean, not strange old white men.
Don't see one of these every day...
My route took me out US 58 to just this side of Suffolk, VA, where I got on some back roads that skirted the Dismal Swamp into NC. Now, mind you, these were some of the same back roads upon which I found myself a mighty bit confused back around 2006. Those unexpected detours directly inspired my novel, The Monarchs, which is set in that area. This time, with the aid of a (mostly) functional phone GPS, getting through that area proved a breeze. I did lose service for a spell out there, but by then, I was most of the way toward familiar territory.

As I was driving past Elizabeth City, only a few minutes shy of Hertford, I did see what at first struck me as an unusual phenomenon. Along the western horizon, as far as the eye could see, what appeared to be a thousand red lights were flashing in unison. I wasn't entirely sure what I might be seeing, but I suspected it might be a wind farm. And that is exactly what it turned out to be. I'd never seen one before at night, and I found the view spectacular.

Once I'd settled in at the most haunted and horrific place, my hosts and I stayed up till the wee hours sipping whiskey and trading most excellent tales of comedy and tragedy.
At the waterfront. A gull on every post.

Come Saturday morning, we headed out to Elizabeth City and the author fest. Page After Page is a small but well-stocked bookstore in a scenic area of town along the waterfront. About 20 authors attended the event, including children's authors, young-adult fiction authors, adult-fiction authors, poets, and creative writers of every ilk. To my surprise, rather than have the writers set up in strategic locations, we were sequestered at the back of the store so each of us could give a presentation about our showcased works. It was an unusual approach, and while I enjoyed listening to these recountings of personal inspiration, I felt we had been essentially separated from whatever customers did show up. And a few did. Clearly, there was less selling than personal and professional fellowship happening here. If I'd had any great expectation of making a killing, I might have been put out, but knowing that Elizabeth City is not necessarily the Mecca for that kind of thing, I had come more for the joy of hanging out with other writers, specifically Dave and Trish (not to mention more than a modicum of geocaching). It is well that these were my expectations.
Trish Wilson tells you what's going down in the business
Author Reginald Buchanan recounts an exciting passage from his novel.
Books from Crossroad Press

All in all, it turned out to be an enjoyable and informative day. At the fest's end, the Wilsons and I transported ourselves to Volcano Japanese Restaurant, where I had dined once before ("These Are a Few of My Favorite Things," June 24, 2012). It was good then, and it was good now. I ripped up three superdynawhopping sushi rolls—a spicy shrimp & scallop roll, a spicy volcano roll, and a spicy tuna & seaweed concoction called "A Christmas Tree." For dessert, I partook of some geocaches and a chai latte from Starbuck's. We had to pick up the Wilsons' daughter Katie at the nearby college campus following a field trip, but the kids were a bit late getting back. So we three adults sat in the Vladmobile for some time, shooting shit and shitting you not.

Back at Chez Wilson, for the evening's entertainment, we watched The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, one of my all-time favorite comedies, made by champion of science Larry Blamire; followed by Polar, a violent thriller starring Mads Mikkelsen. In general, I quite enjoyed the latter, though it feels rather odd to say so, considering the gratuitous sax and violins, not to mention an over-the-top body count. It did have great atmosphere and a driving musical score. We also availed ourselves to some exceedingly pricey whiskey, which I enjoyed, but Dave and I agreed that we both enjoy a lot of whiskeys that cost a quarter of its price at least as much or more. Still, many thanks to Dave for sharing a healthy splash of it with me. There's no one I'd rather share expensive whiskey with.
A big honking bottle of Eagle Rare. Not the most expensive stuff, but among the best.
Brother Tomás

This morning, we had to make a quick stop in Elizabeth City to pick up some copies of my novel, West Virginia: Lair of the Mothman, from Dave's office. That done, we said our goodbyes and I hit the road—and began a long day of driving and geocaching. I claimed about 30 this weekend, more than half of which I snagged on the trip home today. It was a long but not-at-all uncomfortable drive back, as I stopped every few minutes to do a bit of hunting. The majority of the hides I found this weekend were park & grabs, but I still managed to turn up a good number of ingenious, appealing caches, such as "Where Eagles Soar" (GC7N4K2), and "Harbor Log" (GC6CQ24), a short distance down the street. It's always fun to have a few challenging hides in the mix. It's not always just about the numbers....

All in all, this proved a most enjoyable weekend with a couple of the best friends I have, both in the wild and woolly writing business and the wild and woolly business of life in general. Back home now, a bit weary and a little peeved that tomorrow is another day at the office. What I could use right now is a good couple of full days working on Michigan: The Dragon of Lake Superior, which is going swimmingly but deserves a good spell of uninterrupted writing time.

Till then.
Old Rodan on the prowl along the waterfront

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