Sunday, September 26, 2010


Driving into Ontonagon, Michigan, after a hard overnight frost, I just had to stop on the side of the road and photograph this crystal-bedecked fence, vapor rising in the early morning sunlight. It reminded me that only a handful of days remain before the Lady Friend and I must go into our Illinois winter exile, like urban bears into hibernation.

It also reminded me that a camera often can be a writer's best friend, especially if that writer is a regional mystery novelist. Photographs can foster the descriptive sense of place so important in that genre.

Earlier this summer the Lady Friend and I spent a morning photographing the characters and goings-on at a rendezvous of historical re-enactors of the time of Lewis and Clark (1800-1840). Hang Fire, the novel I'm just finishing, opens at such a gathering, and being able to refer to photographs of participants in full costume living in the manner of early nineteenth century Americans helped me immensely.

In fact, it was shortly after visiting the rendezvous that I became unblocked after months of inactivity on the novel. Taking those pictures somehow spurred the creative juices and caused me to imagine new and precise ways to describe what I was writing about.


  1. Sorry to read your summer's stay at the Lair is soon coming to an end. On the other hand it may be for the best: this morning Jan Tucker gave a recipe for pasty soup. In lieu of wooly worms, this has got to be a pretty sure sign that it's going to be a very cold winter in Ontonagon.