Starry Wisdom Retreat: Part 1

I had an amazing time in Providence. Not everything went according to plan, but my plans were made to be flexible, and with the understand that this would probably not be my only trip there. So while I didn't get to visit all the museums I wanted to, or the zoo, I did get to explore Grandpa Theobald's stomping grounds, see lots of nifty old building, and eat some amazing food.

I'm not going to do a day by day, action by action post...I'd be writing for hours. I'll ping the high notes and interesting bits as I think of them. Start with my hotel. The Dean is a small 'boutique' hotel a few blocks from the Providence Biltmore, where StokerCon was being held. I later found out from a friend that it used to be one of the more notorious strip clubs in Providence, with the rooms being rented by the hour. Was a fun place, staff were friendly and the room was nicely sized and mostly comfy. There's a leather reading chair I wanted to steal somehow. Recommended if you're in town and like smaller hotesl.

Now lets move on to Lovecraft. I visited 3 of the places he lived, though only one house is still around (and moved from it's location when he lived there). I also visited the house he used as the setting for the story 'The Shunned House', the Fleur de Lys building which is mentioned in 'The Call of Cthulhu', and where the Church of the Starry Wisdom was in 'The Haunter of the Dark' (though the church was torn down and made into a park.) I also wandered around Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design, on College Hill. Lots of climbing that hill. I visited the John Hay Library, but I didn't request to view the Lovecraft collection, I felt funny about it. I also didn't go see his grave marker at Swan Point cemetery. I found walking in his footsteps more interesting that visiting a grave.

Now lets talk books. Oh lord, is Providence a city for me. 3 used/indie bookstores in downtown (including the amazing Lovecraft Arts and Sciences), and 2 more a bit east around where HPL's birthplace was. I spent a lot on books, oh so many books. I ended up shipping a decent sized box of books home...then I went to StokerCon for more. Cthulhu books, history books, esoterica, stuff on Providence, things that just looked cool. At StokerCon I bought a few books based on author's elevator pitches, or from authors I've been talking to online. So many bookshelves are groaning in pain.

StokerCon itself was fairly low key. It's mostly a 'con for writers to network and talk ideas and techniques. But there were some panels that were less focused, like panels on pulp and weird fiction, or Stoker's writing habits, or Hammer & Universal movies. I also listened to long time favorite authors Ramsey Campbell and Caitlin Kiernan do readings. Every one was really friendly, even the bigger names in the business, and had one author correct me when I said I was 'just a reader'. Also, the above mentioned Lovecraft Arts and Sciences hosted a poetry reading by a number of weird poets, including Donald Sidney-Fryer, who blew me away with how he read. Definitely worth braving the Nor'easterner that hit Friday. The whole con was fun, relaxed and well organized. Definitely recommend. The next one will be in Grand Rapids, MI. See details at

Stay tuned for part 2, where I discuss stingrays, food and friggin' in the riggin'.

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