I Know What You Did Last Non-Summer of 1816

In 1815, a chain of volcanic eruptions including the stratospheric Mt. Tambora, rendered a “sulfate aerosol veil” over much of the northern hemisphere. The effects lingered into the next year as late frosts, cold fronts, inexorable damp and rain drove nail after nail into the coffin of the summer of 1816. After massive crop failures, rampant starvation and one ruined picnic after another, 1816 was deemed The Year Without a Summer.*

In the midst of the gloom, near the rain-pounded shores of Lake Geneva, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron and John Polidori holed up in Byron’s villa and wrote drafts of three great horror stories–Frankenstein, Darkness, and The Vampyre, respectively.

I would like to write an EQUALLY GREAT piece of gothic literature in the rain. How will I do it? By writing in the rain! And making it really, really, really well-written. Moonsoon season is upon us so I hope to get at least four pages down this summer.

I will post my work in progress in a new post.

Expect marshmallows trampled underfoot (the flower not the s’mores ingredient) and beating hearts in Mason jars. Expect flash floods and floral wallpaper ungluing itself. Get ready for a character named Stan, short for something Slavic and much more insidious. Expect chandeliers that burn with darkness instead of light and mysterious animals whose fur only reflects the invisible part of the color spectrum.

All of this will be set in the summer of 1816. And it will be VERY scary. VERY damp and also pretty funereal.

So come back to Spartan Holiday when it’s raining. In New Mexico. You might need to check the regional forecast. Okay, you should really check back the day after it rains, because I can’t publish it while I’m writing it.

I promise you will have never been so frightened by a guy named Stan… grinding marshmallow flowers… with the heel of his boots… in the moor.

Until then, be thankful for summer. It’s not a foregone conclusion.

* All of the tephra in the atmosphere did, however, make for some pretty bitchin’ sunsets.


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