It's autumn again. I've lived through 45 of them now, and most of those in the last decade seem to bring on bouts of reverie and bursts of creativity. It's the time of year when, in the current thrashing of my mid-life crisis, I find myself growing the most sentimental. For what I'm not sure–there's just a rampant nostalgia ferried in by the season. It's when I reminisce about friends gathering at the wooded borders of dead-end streets. When the world and the night seemed to be impressing themselves on me the most. When the turbulent waters of the Great South Bay called, and the wind reached out. It's when my old man kicked off, when the clawing back yard trees beckoned. You feel it too, some of you, or have, or will. It's that time when you wait jubilantly for snowfall. When you can smell history in the air. Your own and everyone else's.
When my literary tastes, both reading and writing-wise, moved from horror towards crime a few years back, I found myself forced to shift my attitude about certain elements and tropes as well. I had to learn to alter my descriptions of October from a month of monsters and terror to a month of noir...and terror. The implications of dread could now be found in hardboiled themes, the same themes I'd been writing about my entire career, but now with the added zing of realism. I had to reframe my descriptions and search for new details. Or at least find a new way to discuss the things I'd been addressing for years in a different genre.
As I gear up to start a new novel I can feel the drag of the past weighing down my mood. Which, ironically enough, is a good thing for a crime writer, I suppose. At least for me. Reflecting on my own regrets and disappointments will fuel the work. Scratching at the wounds keeps them bleeding, keeps them open and active. When I watch the little kids tramping up my front walk dressed as princesses and goblins this Halloween, I know I'll be thinking of the children I never had. The mediocre dreams that never came true, the average efforts that floundered out. The failures that sit beside me, the mistakes that hiss in nightmares. The need to revisit and hammer at troubling issues.
That's what the call of fall does to me, friends. How about you?
Tom Piccirilli is the author of twenty novels including SHADOW SEASON, THE COLD SPOT, THE COLDEST MILE, and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN. He's won two International Thriller Awards and four Bram Stoker Awards, as well as having been nominated for the Edgar, the World Fantasy Award, the Macavity, and Le Grand Prix de L'imagination. Learn more at: www.thecoldspot.blogspot.com