Sunday, September 09, 2001


 Yesterday was a strange day of oddnesses and coincidence and one disaster.

Of course, I'd have missed most of it if I'd known that Maddy had two violins.


The Flash Girls, who have been mentioned more than once in this journal, are The Fabulous Lorraine and Emma Bull. They've been described as gothic folk, and they've been described as lots of other things too, all of them complimentary. The ladies formed the band at my first ever Guy Fawkes Night after moving to the US (which would be somewhere around November 5th, 1992). Later, Lorraine came to work as my assistant (actually she came to help me organise the bookshelves and never went away). Still later, after a couple of Flash Girls albums, Emma Bull and her husband and partner in crime, Will Shetterly, moved to LA. This made life for a Minneapolis-based two-girl band much more problematic.

Still, last year they got back together and made a third album called PLAY EACH MORNING, WILD QUEEN. (The other albums are THE RETURN OF PANSY SMITH AND VIOLET JONES, in the liner notes of which I wrote a very odd short story, and MAURICE AND I. Maurice is a dried alligator head.) The official launch party for WILD QUEEN was last night, at DreamHaven Books. Emma flew in from LA for it last week, and she and Lorraine vanished off to the top of the house together every day; strange music echoed down from the attic.

Yesterday Emma and Lorraine, and several of their friends from distant parts, like Halifax and Kentucky, went off to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. Emma and Lorraine were going to do a few Flash Girls gigs there, along with all the other things Lorraine does (like fiddle for a belly dance group and be the female side of a mead-swigging band named Bedlam). Then they were going to the DreamHaven party in the evening.

I was meant to spending yesterday writing, but when I got up I noticed that Maddy's violin was still here, and I felt bad for her. Maddy is seven, and had been planning to play with Emma and Lorraine at some point. She's had her heart set on it. So I sighed and put the violin in the back of the car, and off I drove.

I was just getting to the festival when I noticed that the pass that would have got me in was missing. I made a couple of phone calls to locate it, got the news, and so kept driving, past the festival and on to the local hospital.

Emma had slipped on a patch of water on a slick wooden floor, at the festival. She'd broken her right arm -- smashed up her elbow quite badly. And the day turned into a hospital sort of day, waiting in waiting rooms for word on what was happening down the do-not-enter corridors.

The third time Lorraine came out she explained that Emma was going to have to go back to their hotel and sleep, and that she wasn't going to be able to play, and the launch party would have to be cancelled.

I said that wasn't a good idea, and went off to the car park to make a few phone calls. Life for everyone was made much easier as I'd shown up, mostly because I had a car.

We went over to Emma and Lorraine's hotel. I saw my wife, and Maddy. "It was so lucky that you came out," said my wife. "I thought you were going to stay home and write."

"I was," I said. "But when I saw you'd forgotten Maddy's violin..."

"I didn't," said Mary. "The one you brought is the one that's too big for her, so we rented another. Didn't you know she had two violins?"

I didn't, of course. But it had made life a lot easier for a lot of people that I hadn't known.

The Dreamhaven launch party went ahead. Several hundred people showed up. Lorraine was there, although she didn't play -- I made a short speech and told people what was happening, Lorraine produced a green mobile phone. People shouted "hello" to Emma over the phone. The entertainment was provided by a combination of Boiled in Lead and the long-defunct Cats Laughing, including Robin Anders, Adam Stemple and Lojo Russo. Lorraine signed a lot of CDs. A get well card was signed.

Keep your fingers crossed for Emma. (It's not a good thing for a writer/musician to lose the use of her right arm.)

And I'll be without an assistant for a few days.

(Useful links: is the amazon link for Maurice and I; is the Flash Girls home page; is Fabulous Records, the record company; and is DreamHaven Books.)