The Dead of Winter by my guest, Kate George
The Dead of Winter
Here I am in the dead of winter thinking about the dead of winter. Writers’ brains do that kind of thing, probably other people’s brains too, but I can only speak for myself. Words are a writer’s life. Playing with words comes naturally and what starts as a simple title can morph into something more, given the slightest bit of encouragement.
I was going to talk about winter here in Vermont. How the snow is barely covering the ground at the lower levels of central Vermont so that stalks of wildflowers and harvested crops are still sticking up making the landscape look barren and more than a little creepy in places. Gloomy. Like a setting for a horror flick.
I hear that there is more snow north of here. So they probably have the pristine white and sparkly landscape, the kind that we enjoy at the beginning of winter, when the snow is new and beautiful. It’s what we expect this time of year. Snow, and snowmen, snow balls, snow tunnels, snow forts. Even snow sculpture on occasion. A transformation of landscape.
But instead of visions of Vermont farms and hills my brain is filled with questions. Who are the dead of winter? This is only partly rhetorical. The “dead of winter” refers to the lack of life during the winter months. Nothing grows. It’s dark and frozen. But some other part of me is intrigued by the dead of winter.
Jacob Marley from Dickens’s A Christmas Carol seems like he qualifies as one of the winter dead, but are there others? The wood nymphs that can’t inhabit frozen trees, perhaps. The spirits of the river frozen out of their home? Are human dead frozen out of their graves? Now I’m getting even to morbid for me. I’m not really talking about human dead here, but something more.
During a winter storm faces sometimes appear in the snow, when it falls thick and fast shadows form and reform as it swirls, creating the illusion of someone standing just out of sight. A benevolent phantom watching to make sure we don’t lose our way. Or maybe a not so benevolent phantom hoping to make us lose our way. There are voices in the wind as well. The icy wind that pushes around the house, roaring through the trees and rattling down the chimneys. A chimera whispering to us as we huddle around our fires. Okay, so maybe it’s our televisions and computers we’re huddled around these days, and we’re distracted and much less likely to notice the spirits around us.
Late in the game I’m realizing that what I’m writing about are not the dead of winter. The wind and the snow, the river and the trees are very much alive. So what would the true dead of winter be? I don’t really know, and it’s likely I don’t want to. Maybe Jacob Marley gets to be the only true dead of winter. What do you think?
Ms. George began writing novels in her twenties when she wrote a truly horrible novella about a marine biologist. She eventually earned her Bachelors degree in Anthropology from UC Davis but there aren't a lot of jobs for a budding anthropologist so she tried a number of different careers. Think police dog trainer and answering service operator and then let your imagination go wild. You couldn't possibly be far from the truth. Originally from California, Ms. George is currently living in Central Vermont with her husband, four children, three dogs, and two cats. She once had 28 chickens, none of which seemed especially keen to lay eggs. Unfortunately, Hermione and Speckles were eaten by coyotes. The rest of the chickens were given to good homes to avoid any further emotional distress. Ms. George currently has two novels; Moonlighting in Vermont which is available from Mainly Murder Press, Amazon and wherever books are sold. Moonlighting’s sequel, California Schemin’ will be available March first, 2011.
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What a fascinating bio and thank you so much for being my guest today, Kate. I do hope you'll come back again when the next book is available.