FaceTiming from the Anglo-Saxon Period

My and my partner in crime, Lorraine Stock

When Dr. Lorraine Stock, Professor of English at the University of Houston, invited me to come speak about my novel, Grendel’s Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife, I was thrilled. She wanted me to engage with her students who were reading Beowulf and Beowulf adaptations. I gave a lecture entitled: “Grendel’s Mother: How Silenced Women Speak Through Historical Fiction.”


Additionally, I attended her class to answer their questions (and sign their books!). But things don’t always go the way you expect them to.

Sadie Hash, intrepid graduate student and cool-as-a-cucumber driver as I FaceTime with Lorraine’s class

Intrepid University of Houston grad student Sadie Hash scooped me up after my much delayed (4 hours) flight. I FaceTimed with Lorraine’s class as Sadie coolly drove to campus, where another student, Travis, whisked me away from curb to classroom to perform live.

Somehow being late was all to the good. The students were a bit intimidated to meet a real live author. But after FaceTiming with me for half an hour as we puzzled over the sound quality of the connection and they got a glimpse of the blue and green streaks in my hair, they relaxed.

Engaging with the audience

Then, Lorraine had fashioned a convivial mead (wine) hall for my lecture with warm and responsive guests. I spoke to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty. It was an utter delight to converse with Anglo-Saxonist John McNamara, whose 2005 translation of Beowulf is a Barnes and Noble Classic.

We listened to Sarah McSweeney’s poignant rendition of Helga’s Song from my book.

In a wonderful surprise, a dear friend, Sabrina Martinez, was able to attend my talk.

A great surprise! My friend from Swarthmore College Alumni Council (now she’s on the Board!), Sabrina Martinez. It was a thrill she could attend and we could chit-chat late into the night

That was a good day.

Moses before the Burning Bush by Raphael

The next afternoon, after having a delightful time filming an interview with Lorraine  and conversing with faculty and students, Lorraine, Sadie, and I made it to one of my favorite museums: the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

Studies of Feet by Bartolomeo Passarotti

Most amusing was our conversation about Rubens’ Leda and the Swan.

Leda and the Swan by Rubens

The closer you look, the more it strikes the viewer as a tad…kinky. We were very giggly.

Leda and the Swan by Rubens, close up.

Art–whether written or visual or musical–continues to inspire, bringing us together in convivial spaces of exchange and dynamic warmth. Thanks to Lorraine and her students for fostering such a delightful climate and partnership!

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