My Nicola Griffith Habit

A few months ago, my wife started reading Hild, a gorgeous historical fiction novel set in the seventh century. She read me bits and pieces as I was falling asleep; and they were beautifully crafted. But I was entangled in editing my own work, and not looking for anything substantial to sidetrack me (there are so many small diversions, as it is). So she kept reading on her own, dropping the occasional oblique note. “The author lives in Seattle.” OK. “Her wife is a writer, too.” That’s nice. “She’s taught self-defence.” Hmmm. “She has a couple of sci-fi books.” Cool. “Oh, and a mystery series with a lesbian detective.” And boom, off I went to the internet to track down those books.

I picked up The Blue Place, first in the Aud Torvingen series, on my lunch break downtown, on a work day. I put it down when I’d reached the end, shortly before midnight. Oops. Best not to pick up the second, Stay, until I knew I had a day off ready to devote to it. But surely one of the science fiction stand-alones would be safer, i.e., easier to put down after a chapter or two, and fit some daily life in between. So I got a copy of Slow River. Oops. Really, I should know better.

Like the very reliable adult I am, I recognized that this author writes in a way that sucks me into the story. Which is wonderful, except for the side effects. Staying up past bedtime, missing my stop on the bus, getting cranky about any and all interruptions. Putting aside things I really did need to get done…

Finally, when I felt ready for the plunge, I picked up both Stay and Always. I opened Stay for ‘just a peek’ and surfaced several hours later, hungry in my darkened house. I did, however, make that book last a full day and a half. The awareness that I was headed inexorably for the end of this character’s world helped me find the discipline to take breaks. That, and the two books had taken me on an emotional rollercoaster, the first deeply unsettling and the second providing quite a bit of resolution. What more could number three hold in store?

By now, wherever Aud was going next, I was determined to tag along. And when I gave myself permission to start Always, I was aware of how much I enjoyed being inside the story for each moment that I got to spend in its pages. Putting the book down became a promise that there would still be more story left to slip into, that the ride wasn’t over yet. Until, eventually, I had to reach the end. Dammit.

My next fix will be Ammonite; and when I have the time to do it justice, I’ll pick up Hild. I understand there is a second installment of Hild’s story in the works, which gives me some consolation. And if they read more slowly than the other genre works, that’s fine now. At least I won’t exhaust my opportunity to spend time in a world of Nicola Griffiths’ creation too quickly.

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