Monday, August 30, 2021

Where Gregory L Norris Writes

 Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a series in which authors showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Gregory L. Norris. 

Raised on a healthy diet of creature double features and classic Science Fiction TV, Gregory writes for national magazines, short story anthologies, novels, and the occasional episode for film and television. Norris writes The Day After Tomorrow series for Anderson Entertainment in the U.K. based on the Gerry Anderson NBC made-for-TV movie, which he watched and loved as a boy, and worked on Paramount’s Star Trek: Voyager series as a screenwriter. Norris lives at the Outer Limits of New Hampshire’s North Country in a century-old house called Xanadu with his giant rescue cat and emerald-eyed muse.

Where Gregory L Norris Writes

Often, I joke with friends that if my Writing Room had a sofa, coffee pot, and bathroom, I’d never leave it. I sit here in the heart of Xanadu, my century-old New Englander on a hill in New Hampshire’s North Country. My home office, much like writing, was a dream I envisioned long ago the summer after I turned fifteen and took my first step into the much larger universe to be explored by living a literary life.

 Xanadu—named after the 1980 roller disco musical about a place where dreams come true—had sat neglected and vacant for two years before my late husband, Bruce, and I toured it on a frigid December afternoon in 2012. Four months later, we closed on the house and moved in, and Bruce began a fierce renovation schedule, including the downstairs bedroom with the antique wide-pine floors. He took this room apart, restored everything, painted it in beachy blue (considered the most productive color for a creative space), and, on a Saturday in March that felt like the best Christmas of my life, we moved all of my furniture, boxes of manuscripts, artwork, and family treasures into my new and forever Writing Room. I plan to haunt the space long after I’m gone.

 My writing room—where I’ve penned more than 500 of the total 1564 works of fiction of my career, including my novel Ex Marks the Spot (Woodhall Press, September 2021)—is my favorite place on this planet. I have others on other planets and realms, but since we’re here to talk about writing spaces, I’ll stick to the big room with the tall ceiling that beckons to me every morning after I wake upstairs either to the feline alarm clock or the one operated by my muse.

The room boasts two enormous glass-front cases, both containing my archives of published clips—every novel, short story, magazine, DVD, or VHS tape containing my work. One entire wall is covered by autographed photographs of celebrities I’ve interviewed or gotten to rub elbows with over the course of my career—all of my childhood icons, in fact, from having grown up on a healthy diet of creature double features and classic Science Fiction TV. Two four-drawer lateral filing cabinets contain all of my longhand first drafts in designer file folders—early on, I realized I wasn’t manila. Another bookshelf is filled with old press passes, press kits, and swag from events I’ve attended. The wall above the filing cabinets is devoted to awards I’ve won, including the Spinetingler’s Best Book of the Year, the Small Press Writers’ and Artist’s Award for Year’s Best New Writer, and my Honorable Mention in 2016’s prestigious The Roswell Awards in Short Science Fiction Writing. A letter of recommendation from the creator of Star Trek:Voyager hangs on that wall. My favorite award is the hand-drawn certificate my mother presented to me in 1982 on the night of May 28th when she hosted a party for high school friends to celebrate the completion of my 100th work of fiction.

 At the center of the room is my desk, a sturdy though beat-up relic from childhood. My desk was our family’s old kitchen table. When I revealed to my mother that I wanted to be a writer, only a writer, and requested a desk for Christmas, I returned home from school one afternoon to discover that she’d transformed a corner of my old bedroom into a writer’s studio. There was our old table, brought up from the basement, along with a cup filled with pens and my first file cabinet, one of those made from sturdy cardboard. I’ve written at this desk now for 41 years. It still bears ink stains from my fountain pens, some of those marks four decades old.

 In January 2020, my husband died of Supranuclear Palsy, a cousin to Parkinson’s with a hunger like ALS that is always fatal. I pledged to him and myself that I would never sell this house, which he loved and which I do as well—I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. 2020 was also the year of the pandemic. I decided to treat “shelter-at-home” like “writer-in-residence” and, with the help of the muse and our rescue cat, Daisy, channeled my grief into one of my most productive years ever.  At home, I traveled to Antarctica, Moonbase Alpha, Atlantis, solved murder mysteries, fell in love, and was reunited with Bruce in the pages of Ex Marks the Spot.

Every morning, I enter my Writing Room with coffee and seriousness of purpose and, on most days, experience the pure, timeless joy of living my dream. Daisy normally loafs on the “Starry Night” rug at my side, a loyal companion who would perform light filing duties but for the absence of opposable thumbs. I love my muse, my Writing Room, and the writing life.

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