Ghost Stories and Wine

Last night’s ghost story reading at the Brooklyn Winery in Williamsburg went very, very well! First of all, let me just say that the Brooklyn Winery itself is a beautiful venue. The reading had its own room off of the main bar/restaurant area, which helped a lot in terms of noise and audience attention span. But the room was also really nice, came with its own waitress, and featured an enormous window into what I call the “wine cave,” where huge casks of wine are stored and aged. The room was packed to capacity, which is always nice (and rare!) to see for a reading. Best of all, I didn’t know a single person in the audience! (Well, other than my wife, but you know what I mean.)

Leanna Renee Hieber and I each got to read two pieces. The theme was ghost stories for Halloween, and host Gordon Linzner made it clear to us we could read something of our own, or classic ghost stories, or both. Leanna read a short story of hers, as well as a novel excerpt, both of which were wonderfully gothic period pieces, but also had a lot humor to them. Her fiction strikes me as really fun, and I’m eager to discover more. I read Ray Bradbury’s “The Emissary,” a story that, to me, epitomizes autumn and Halloween in particular, and an excerpt from a novel in progress called In The Shadow of the Axe, which despite its lurid title is actually a gothic period piece deeply inspired by Hammer films and the Roger Corman Poe cycle. I know it’s not ideal to read from a work in progress because then the audience can’t go out and find it afterward, but I thought it fit the Halloween mood better than something from Dying Is My Business would have. Gordon rounded out the night with a reading of Robert W. Service’s “The Ballad of Pious Pete.”

Speaking of Dying Is My Business, I sold a couple of copies of the book there, too. (And gave one to Gordon gratis as a thank you for inviting me.) That made it a better crowd than at most readings, too! I was also thanked by a devout Ray Bradbury fan for choosing to read one of his stories.

It was a great night. I’d read at the Brooklyn Winery again in a heartbeat — even if it does take me three different trains to get there from my apartment! Many thanks to Gordon and Leanna for making it such a fun event!

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