The leaves are changing. Our yard is covered with curled, yellow maple leaves and fallen crab apples left for the blue jays and squirrels.

The garden looks shabby, the muted purples and golds of narrow leaf sunflowers and purple asters punctuated by the crimson red Virginia Creeper crawling up the stick structure I built this summer.

I’ve always loved the mood of fall: those blossoms slowly disintegrating, plants clinging to their beauty like Miss Havisham holding tight to her bedraggled wedding dress. Satis House, where she lived, was definitely haunted – with regret, with longing. All those clocks frozen on the hour and minute of her heartbreak….

Next week, on Friday, September 21, I’ll be spending a night in a similar sort-of eerie environment…. the rumoured-to-be haunted attic in Winnipeg’s Dalnavert House.

The New Fantasmagoriana, part of Thin Air: The Winnipeg International Writers’ Festival, celebrates the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by bringing together four writers (me, along with Jonathan Ball, Kevin Marc Fournier, and Joanna Graham) to do a public reading in the parlour of this looming, Victorian-era house/museum.

After that, we will shuffle upstairs (hopefully with candles) to our attic accommodations for a potentially uneasy night of writing….

The novel Frankenstein was, of course, born during a stormy summer when Mary Shelley, her lover and eventual husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron and others took part in a story contest in the Swiss Alps.

Our own contemporary story competition will lead to four original pieces that will be launched on – of course – Halloween Night.

I’ve opted to sleep in a haunted room once before (nothing happened, but then there was whisky…) and had an interesting and eventually inspiring visit to the spiritualist community of Lilydale, New York… still, I expect this to be a night like no other (while also unsure about what to expect…) If you’re in the Winnipeg area, though, I hope you can make it to wish me sweet dreams…

So many other incredible events will be happening during the week of the festival so if you can’t attend this one, take a look at the schedule to see what else you can go to. And hopefully, I’ll see you around!