An excerpt from the novel-in-progress.

One moment Millie was knocking on a large wooden door and the next she found herself sitting in the middle of a vast conservatory, with no memory of any event between the two instances. In fact, she had only the haziest recollection of anything before the door, save her name and a few other particulars. She decided it was too great a risk to stand in her dazed state and continued to sit quietly on the bench. She pondered for a moment whether she had been drugged, but that disquieting thought proved far too elusive to hold in her mind for more than the tiniest, most alarming second.

Millie studied her surroundings woozily. The arched roof of the conservatory was comprised of hundreds of small panes of glass, some rectangular and others rounded or diamond-shaped. The ceiling stretched far above her head, with a few strangely twisted trees reaching towards those impossible heights. A walkway ran along the edges of glass walls, an entire story up, though she could see it was as deserted as the area surrounding her bench. It reminded her of a great temperate house she’d visited as a child, but both its location and anything distinct about the occasion were swiftly dashed away in the current of her muddled thoughts.

There was an unearthly quality to the light filtering through those beautiful glass panes, and the shadows cast by the highly-ornamented wrought metal struts stretched like curling tentacles on the walkway before her. Millie had a vague notion of caution, that she should be wary in this place, but felt too fuzzy to respond appropriately to this idea. The humid air pressed against her, so she yielded to it — to the entire situation. She was finding it far too difficult to do otherwise.

Millie was no horticulturalist, but even she could see that most of the plants filling the overheated space were quite out of the ordinary. She was surrounded by riotous color and buffeted by a hundred intoxicating scents, yet she could pick out nothing familiar. No frond or blossom resembled anything she’d known before; no perfume stirred a single recollection. She could not be sure, however, whether this absence of acquaintance was truly due to the exotic nature of the lush greenery encircling her, or her own absent memory.

Millie closed her eyes and thought. Hadn’t it been night time only a moment before? She shook her head as if to clear it, but her understanding remained as foggy as a wretched London evening. She turned a slightly unfocused gaze toward a tall gentleman watching her with barely concealed amusement from beside the tinkling fountain. He wasn’t a young man, but he was handsome in an aristocratic, pale way, with wavy blond hair and clear green eyes. He had an air of command about him, as though he often took charge. But how long, Millie asked herself, had he been there?

The stranger blinked and smiled in a mildly predatory manner. “Who might you be?”

Millie longed to place herself in the gentleman’s surely capable hands but mistrusted a smile of such wolfishness. Her thoughts were perhaps a mite sluggish, but a few of her instincts were still functioning. “A friend. I think.”

The man’s smile widened. “One can never have too many friends. Does my new friend have a name?”

Millie, feeling ridiculously coy, shook her head.

Something dangerous flitted through the man’s eyes, but it passed so quickly that Millie could not identify it.

“I think I shall call you Amie,” the man said. “For ma belle petite amie.”

Millie appalled herself by giggling. “No one ever calls me beautiful.” The man was much closer than Millie thought. Had he crossed the room? Or had he been so close all along? She couldn’t be sure.

“They should,” the man purred.

“But what do I call you?” Millie asked, allowing the man to draw her to her feet. She felt a little bereft to leave the bench behind; it felt as though it had been an ally in her time of need.

“A good question,” the handsome gentleman said, tucking Millie’s hand in the crook of his arm. “A very good, very necessary question.”

Millie looked up at him, craning her neck. He was so particularly tall and distinguished looking, especially for a man who had to be at least two decades older than she. He was oddly familiar, but when she attempted to recall who he reminded her of, the memory slipped away as easily as the hair ribbon she’d lost at the seaside as a child. The wind had whipped it out of her fingers, and she’d found herself clutching only air as it spun towards the oncoming waves. It had hovered above the surf for a moment, a tiny red streak against the cold, grey sea.

“Call me Bettgenossen,” the man said fondly. “Though it’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?”

Millie nodded, strangely shy. The name sounded German, but apart from her native tongue, she grasped nothing but schoolgirl French and a smattering of Italian.

“Just call me Bett, then,” the man said with a confiding chuckle.

“Bett,” Millie repeated. She felt as though she floated in the bright, luminous green of his gaze.

He leaned down and kissed her on the tip of her pert nose. “Ah, Amie. You are the best present my children have ever sent me.”

“I am?” Millie breathed.

“Oh, yes,” Bett said as he ushered her down a dark corridor. “The very best indeed.”


An excerpt from my current novel-in-progress, Wolfden Cross.

(Photo credit: Sarah Ross.)

Fuck Hemingway.

Fuck Hemingway.

Hemingway. You savage ruiner of glorious, complicated prose — you misogynistic, literature-killing inebriate — fuck you and the iceberg theory you rode in on. Your terse, manly prose deserves to be relegated to the literary dustbin. You committed word crimes in the name of clarity, but you took that name in vain and destroyed nearly a century of American writing.

I shall gather ignored, dessicated adverbs to my old-fashioned bosom. I shall write swathes of parenthetical complication and use semicolons to my heart’s content. I shall recover the beauty of the English language from your cruel, dead hands like a delicate and ladylike Conan the Barbarian stealing a dusty sword from a forgotten tomb.

And I will wield that sword in the service of colorful misandry and for the love of words themselves.

I will exorcise Hemingway and his ilk from the boring modern novel. Get thee behind me, Ernest! The power of poetry compels you. The power of sublime prose compels you. It is writing itself compels you.

A Month of Clothing Philosophy: The Metaphorical Elephant in the Room

I’m wearing a Comino Cap top for Me Made May today. The fabric is a tentacle patterned knit from Spoonflower.

This is my second year participating in Me Made May, and I want to do something a little different this time. I will spend this month not only wearing my own handmade clothing, but also examining my relationship to clothing in general, and why it’s so important to me, in a series of essays.

A Month of Clothing Philosophy — Part One
The Metaphorical Elephant in the Room

Long ago, in the halcyon days when my beloved E.K. lived right down the street instead of across the country, she once called early on a Saturday morning with some spontaneous plan for the day. She said she would be right over to pick me up and I said, “Give me 30 minutes — I have to get dressed.”

E.K. laughed and said, “You actually do that, don’t you? You ‘get dressed,’ but I just put on clothes!”

It was true then and it’s true now: I get dressed. I dress with thought and purpose, and spend more time thinking about, making, altering, and spending time with clothes than many do. (You’ll notice I don’t spend much time shopping for clothes, but we’ll get into that later.) And yet I’m not a fashionista. I don’t usually post OOTD snaps on social media, and although I often receive compliments on my outfits in real life, I’m not especially flamboyant or colorful. It’s likely I’ll never sport the candy colored hair and exquisitely chosen accessories necessary for social media success amongst the clothing elite.

I do get derisive looks from strangers, however, and have been on the receiving end of unpleasant stares far more often than I would like.

You want to know why? It’s simple enough: I’m fat.

I’m what I think of as “medium fat” — mammoth by Hollywood standards, of course, but completely functional in the real world. I’ve never needed a seat belt extender on an airplane, for instance — and being spared that particular indignity may be what brought home the concept of relative privilege for me. I may get less abuse than many fat people, but I still get some — you know? I “read” as thinner than I am, which also gets me better treatment. I have a strong jaw and prominent chin, so my double chin is less apparent. I’m not very busty (and am in fact three dress sizes smaller at the bust than at the hip), so I seem smaller than I might otherwise. I’m pear-shaped with a definite, smaller waist. I have a lot of relative privilege. I know that.

But I am definitely, demonstrably fat. I am plus sized, if you want a coy term. I am not euphemistically curvy, “overweight” (over what weight, exactly?), or — god forbid — fluffy, a term I despise more than almost any other. I’m simply fat, and when I use that word to describe myself I mean it just as a physical descriptor — like short, or pale. I don’t mean it as an insult.

It took me years to find this level of self acceptance, but fat is finally a neutral term for me, and it’s what I call myself.

So, now that we have that out of the way, we can begin to examine why I come to clothing with a different perspective than many, and why dressing well is both a creative and a political act for me. I’m not only here to shock the bourgeoisie (as fun as that can be), but I’m here to be visible, to represent an unfairly vilified segment of society.

Clothes can be a serious business, and they’re serious to me. Representation is important.

Clothing is important.