A Just So Halloween Story

Happy Halloween!  I've been reading Rudyard Kipling's Just So stories to my daughter, and ending up writing this rather twisted parody.  In real life, it is a bad idea to shake your baby.   


This, O my Best Beloved, is a story—a new story, a terrible, terrible story, of a mother’s love for her baby. 

This baby was cruel, O my Best Beloved, always hungry, always crying.

Back when the world was wild, in 2001, in a house in Spokane, Washington, the mother, kind, tired mother, wanted some peace and quiet. 

“Please go to sleep, baby,” the mother said.

“I will not!” shouted the baby--always hungry, always pooping--and then the baby began to scream.  The scream was so loud that it frightened the salmon who all swam back to the ocean, and startled the eagles who fell from the sky.  So the mother--always giving, always changing diapers--shook the baby, she shook and shook her until the baby’s head was loose--her bad baby--always hungry, always yelling. 

And after ever so many shakes, the baby was dead.

Off ran Mother, kind, frantic mother—always giving, always making dinner—she buried the baby in the backyard under the apple tree.  

She had to!

Then the mother slept.  She was so tired she slept for three days and three nights.  And the salmon returned and the eagles flew in the sky. 

But after three days and nights, that baby--that bad baby, always hungry, always spitting up--was hungrier still.      

Up jumped Baby from her shallow grave, her skin pearly and bruised, sloughing off, revealing rotting muscle meat underneath, maggots and beetles in her eyes.  Fast ran Baby--still hungry, still crying--into the house, flies following her.  She ran to her mother’s room. 

“Feed me!” the baby howled. 

The baby was already gnawing at the cat, holding it by the neck, its throat torn open, blood and cat hair around the baby’s mouth. 

O my Best Beloved, imagine the mother’s surprise. 

Up jumped Mother—always anxious, always vacuuming--from the bed.  She caught the baby and wrapped her in a garbage bag and tied the garbage bag with rope and then she drove down the cul-de-sac, down the highway, past the big box stores, to the bridge and she tossed that bad baby overboard into the river. 

She had to!

              Off drove mother--kind, loving mother--over the bridge, past the big box stores, down the highway, up the cul-de-sac, all the way home, where she took a Valium and turned on daytime television until her head stopped pounding.

            Then she rested.

            Law & Order was on.

            She watched ever so many episodes.

            Night came.

            Up jumped Baby – hungrier still, always with a diaper rash, never satisfied, never happy--from her watery grave.  Her flesh half-eaten by fish, eels in her eyes, she ran up the riverbank, over the bridge, past the big box stores, down the highway, up the cul-de-sac, flies following her.

            “Feed me!” she yelled.  She had no manners then, and she has no manners now, and she never will have any manners.

            Up jumped mother, halfway to the kitchen, halfway to the butcher knife, but then she paused. 

            Something was different. 

            Baby was quiet.  Baby—hungry baby, always kicking, always clawing--was still.  Baby was watching the TV set.  Baby was good. 

            Mother--always singing, always reading Goodnight Moon, never complaining--patted Baby’s slimy fontanelle.

            The house was quiet. 

And that, O my Best Beloved, is why mothers let their babies watch television to this day.    


Larry Brooks asks questions. I answer them.

Hi, guys.  Head on over to storyfix.com, and check out an interview I just did with Larry Brooks. There's probably a way to hyperlink that, but I don't know how, so you will have to laboriously type it into your address bar.  So much trouble, I know. 

What I bought at the Royal Wedding, plus what happened

So I took my daughter to the royal wedding.  I bought a lot of commerative plates and thimbles.  Also an ashtray, a flag, a stuffed corgi, a mug, a keychain, a bunch of Union Jack pencils, a couple of Paddington Bears, paper Kate and Wills masks, and a tin of shortbreads from Harrod's.  And that's not even getting into my spree at Top Shop.  Anyway, here's an essay I wrote about the whole adventure for the Oregonian.


Tea towels for everyone!

I'm packing up my six-year-old daughter, Eliza, and heading to London on the 25th, to go to the Royal Wedding.  Let me amend that.  We are not actually going to the wedding; we are going to stand outside with a half million other people and try to catch a glimpse of the wedding party on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.  It's a crazy scheme, as my husband keeps reminding me.  If it all goes wrong I can always go on the Jack the Ripper tour and call it a tax deductible research trip, right?  Anyway, I'll try to keep you all updated on our princess stalking adventure.  If you're interested, you can follow me at twitter or facebook, as I'll be much more likely to post on those than on this old thing.  In the meantime, we will continue to work on our curtsies. Eliza is getting pretty good at hers. 

Suicide Birds, Clowns, and Straw Cowboy Hats

Just back from a road trip to Arizona where I got to open for the fabulous Ian Rankin at The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale.  Have you been to this store?  If you love mysteries and thrillers, you must go to this store.  It is amazing.  We also saw a spring training game, bought straw cowboy hats, picked an orange off a tree, and survived the deadly Nevada suicide birds, which line the snowy highway up north and then flock toward the car in great numbers and at high speeds.  Now we are home.  Did I mention I took my six-year-old daughter, husband and two dogs on this trip?  Also, if you happen to be passing through Tonopah, Nevada, I recommend staying at The Clown Motel.  It has creepy clown paintings in all the rooms and an old creepy cemetery nextdoor.  Swoon.  Tomorrow I leave for New York.  This time without the daughter, husband and dogs.  I'll be signing stock at Mysterious Bookshop, so if you live in the area stop by anytime after March 30th, and you can pick up a signed edition of my new book The Night Season.  Is there a Clown Motel in Manhattan?  Perhaps I can look into opening a franchise. 

The Night Season is #19 on the NYT hardcover bestseller list!

My new thriller, The Night Season, is #19 on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list.  It's also #9 on the PNBA bestseller list (that's the list for indie bookstores in the Pacific Northwest).  Thanks to all of you who've bought a book.  Is there anyway that you could all buy just 10 more copies?  In other news, I've taken my six-year-old daughter to so many signings that she can now forge my signature with an unsettling degree of accuracy. 

Hey!  You know what makes a great St. Patrick's Day gift?  The Night Season.  "Cain" IS an Irish name. 

The Night Season is out today!

Pub date is finally here!  The Night Season is in stores, waiting to be picked up by people who will give it a nice home.  It has a lovely cover, and will look nice on your shelf.  You don't have to even read it if you don't want to.

THE NIGHT SEASON comes out this Tuesday!

You can pre-order the new book in real life at a real bookstore, or online in a virtual one, RIGHT NOW.  Isn't that exciting?  You know what else is exciting?  I finally have buy buttons up for the new book in the "store" section of this website. 

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