The name conjures earlier nightfall, crisp air, and the advent of all things spooky. It is thirty-one days of horror movies, pumpkin lattes, and the possibility of weather cool enough to open windows. It is a time of afternoon coffee, fresh radishes crisp as apples and nearly as big, and the first bowls of lunchtime soup.
When I moved to Central Texas five years ago, I thought that there were really only two seasons: Summer and not-Summer. I was wrong. There are seasons, but they are subtle. The trees may not erupt with the Autumnal fire of cooler climes, but they do change. The live oak mellows from a dark green to a gentle golden-green and the lush emerald of the cedars deepens. Insects and flowers that the sun killed return, making October a month of understated rebirth. Dragonflies float on sunlight-reflecting wings, glittering bits of consciousness hovering above the changed trees. Fireflies drift amongst dying thickets even as multicolored zinnias blow in the cooler breezes. On cloudy mornings, Austin’s ambient light reflects from the muzzy atmosphere, and a surprising profusion of sunflowers glow bright as good omens.
My creativity, which had grown sluggish beneath the constant blue of Summer’s onslaught, is also flowering. My work on expanding and revising the first book in my sci-fi/horror series is going at a good clip, and connections between characters and themes ricochet through my dreams to appear on the pages. In addition to work on the novel, I’m also preparing a short story for inclusion in an anthology. The story is a strange little gem inspired by Ouida Sebestyen’s novel, Girl in the Box. Not including reviews and blog posts, I have written close to four-hundred pages of new material this year. To put that in perspective, the final draft of Stolen Climates weighs in at just over 240 pages. I have never been this productive. I welcome my awakening!
October is also the month of horror blog hops. This year, I am participating in the Coffin Hop. Mark your calendars, because I’ll be giving away fun prizes, copies of Stolen Climates, and writing a post a day!
Fall is my favorite season. Shadows quicken behind the sun’s shortened days. Plant life gasps golden deaths; the trees begin to bare their branches. Winds blow from a new direction and even here in Texas, there is the promise of Summer’s end.
I notice light: the way it falls across a yard, how it moves along a wall as the day passes, how it feels on my skin. The effulgent summer overwhelms me, dulls me with ubiquitous luminosity. Heat, greenery, and unrelenting daylight steamroll my consciousness. Summer is a season of indolence, of hiding in the darkened cool of shaded rooms, of enduring. The calendar says otherwise, but summer in central Texas is at least six months long. By the end of September, I start to feel anxious. I imagine people who live farther North feel this way about Winter, wondering if it will ever relent, if the seasons will ever turn. I don’t bother to check the weather April through September; the high might waver by a few degrees, but once the heat sets in, there will be months of unvaried sweltering. This year, there has not even been any rain to take the edge off. I am ready for Autumn. I am ready for the change.
It doesn’t hurt Fall’s case any that October is an Autumn month. The sun sets earlier and invites the inborn fear of darkness. It is a time when walking on a trail after dark feels spooky rather than simply dangerous. There is a shift in psychological pressure as the forced fecundity of the growing season dies back. Elements held in abeyance all through the beery, sundress days rise like mist. October is the month where my husband and I go on an exclusive visual diet of horror movies. Halloween is the crowning glory, and I am thrilled by the decorations, the candy to hide the bitter taste of death, the delicious charge of a haunted house, scary movie, or psychologically taut novel.
I love maize mazes, scarecrows, and carved pumpkins leering out of triangular eye sockets. I love the russet, orange, goldenrod color scheme. I love those obscene decorative gourds with their mottled skin and their absolute uselessness. I love the way dry leaves sound as they are shoved along night time streets. I love the fact that I survived summer.
Happy Horror Season!
STOLEN CLIMATES will be released in Kindle, Nook and paperback – more details soon!
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