I sometimes have the urge in seaside towns to just take an apartment, go upstairs and rent it and close the door and write. This place is a little as if I’ve done that. I am in Florida on Manasota Key, at a residency at the Hermitage. It’s a less crowded Florida than I’m used to, but I like it, with its dark and stormy nights, windy sunny days, and the sea an unreal color of blue that doesn’t look like a color found in nature, and yet… there it is. At night there’s no light pollution, and so I sleep deeply. My work is going well and I’m just… very happy right now.
Craig Lucas, Steve Kuusisto and the painter Barbara Ellman are here with me. It’s a small colony, incredibly beautiful and in addition to getting a great deal figured out in just two days so far, I’m having a lot of fun with them. Today, with some help from the Hermitage staff and their relationship with the Ringling Museum, I drove over with Steve to visit the archives of the Ringling Museum—the above photo, of the child actress Loie Fuller, is by Frederick Glasier, whose new book had just arrived courtesy of a 4,000 volume donation they just received. I’m honestly in awe of the whole place, which I barely saw as I spent an hour this afternoon there reading “I Married Adventure”, by Osa Johnson, her memoir of life as an adventuress in the company of her husband, the photographer and explorer Martin Johnson. I’m going back tomorrow partly just to look at the Glasier book in person, and perhaps read more Osa Johnson, but also to properly take in the museum collection and then go back into the archives for more, as their materials are amazing.
I’m here working on some revisions to The Queen of the Night, my forthcoming second novel, which has a circus in it, thus this archive visit. There’s also an opera, and the Siege of Paris–it’s been a lot of research overall. So I’ll be back soon with a post on some of the research I’ve done for this novel and some thoughts on researching novels. And of course, more soon from the Tournament of Books over at the Morning News.