Wednesday, March 7, 2012

That one time I almost got arrested.

On Monday I whined a little about my aversion to having my picture taken, and told the story of how, one Sunday morning in January, I found myself in Rebecca Skinner's car, headed for an abandoned mill site, to take my author photo.

We were chatting happily as she drove down a narrow, winding road, when we looked through the scraggly branches of the leafless trees to see ...

Bare concrete foundation slabs.

"Oh, hell," Rebecca said. "They've torn it down."

[Insert frownie face here]

Yep, not one week before, a lovely abandoned mill had been standing on that very spot, but someone decided to get medieval on it and knocked it flat. We took a few pictures of me in front of the few walls that remained standing. I sat in some broken glass.

Here's me, sitting on some broken glass, wishing I was
inside an abandoned mill.
Good thing my jeans protected my tender parts. Anyway, Rebecca was undeterred. "There's another mill in Bellingham!" she announced. "We shall go!" <--she actually talks like a normal person, but you know. Dramatic license.

She drove us to Bellingham, to the ruins of this old mill with a river running underneath it. She parked her car right next to the NO TRESPASSING sign. And the fence with the chain and the padlock. "The fence doesn't go all the way around," she assured me. "There's an open spot if we walk through these woods." Then we discussed the relative likelihood that one of the neighbors would see us and call the police, and decided to go for it anyway.

Now, I have always been a rule follower. I respect authority. I do not normally do things like this. And man, was I having fun. I'm following this photographer lady through the woods and feeling very cool. We crept around the fence and made our way across the bare slabs of foundation, over to the part of the mill that was still standing (and boarded up). "I'm pretty sure we can climb through in the back. There are some barrels we can stand on to get through the windows," Rebecca said to me as we looked up at the ruins of the building, surrounded by piles of debris and bricks.

Aaaaand that's where we were standing when the owners of the mill arrived. Yeah. They unlocked that padlock on the fence and rolled in with a Uhaul. "Well, shit," Rebecca said. <--this isn't dramatic license. She actually said that, which, if possible, made me like her even more.

These were not friendly looking men. In fact, they were rather pissed-off-looking men as they climbed out of their trucks and saw us standing there. One of them walked over to us. "You're just taking pictures?" he asked, staring at Rebecca, whose arms were full of camera equipment.

"Oh, yes, sir," she said sweetly. (and of course, I was standing there, all wide-eyed and innocent-looking, nodding my head vigorously)

"And you're not going to go inside, right?"

"Oh, no, sir." (and yes, I was shaking my head, like "No way, sir, wouldn't dream of it, sir, please don't call the police, sir.")

"Well, all right then." And then he and his buddy went into the mill, and left us alone. I was thrilled! Until Rebecca and I realized that, unless we wanted to wait them out (and I actually think they decided to wait us out) or get arrested ... no interior abandoned mill photos for us.


We made the most of it. The outside of that place really was pretty cool, as you see here:

Here I am, having found yet another incredibly comfortable
place to sit.
And Rebecca was excellent company. She did her best with me, and I think we found a pretty good photo that will heretofore be known as the Official. Author. Photo:*

There you have it. The reasonably interesting story of how I got my author photo. And now, let us celebrate having gotten it over with, and the revealing of my actual face on the Internet. Here is what I suggest: You give me a caption for this photo, and next Monday, I'll pick one of today's commenters (captioners?) to receive a $25 Amazon gift card.

What say you?

And once you're done captioning, please head on over to Laura's blog, as she answers this month's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog question--about prologues!

*Except for my S.E. Fine author photo, which doesn't come with a funny story, but is kind of nice nevertheless. I'll will be showing it off at a later date.


  1. Oh, wow! What a fantastic picture! It's perfect!

    And it's nice to meet you finally, face to face!

  2. OK, you found me out. I hoard bricks. Great photos. And you're beautiful!

  3. Great photos. Brilliant setting. And the final one is really lovely.

  4. I LOVE THIS PICTURE. I can't believe you didn't share this one!

  5. I don't know why you were so worried! They're gorgeous photos, Sarah! :)

  6. awesome pics! And walking around abandoned mills sounds like a blast. (I love old, abandoned stuff.) As for the caption - 'Those three little pigs didn't stand a chance'

  7. I LOVE The photos. They're all perfect for the feel of Sanctum. I especially love the first one. It makes me think of a scene from the book. I don't know why you were so worried, Sarah. You look great in all of them.

    Eek, a caption. My mind's gone blank.

  8. Great story, and what a gorgeous picture - love the lighting on your hair. Rebecca Skinner's an excellent photographer, wish she was in Scotland so I could go on an abandoned building/author picture hunt.

  9. Okay, something strange just happened to my comment, so I'll try again.

    These are AMAZING and COOL and lovely, Sarah!

    "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll..." That's all I've got! :D

  10. "They said I'd regret not cleaning my house. Shows what they know."

  11. I LOVE that first photo; it's so edgy and cool with the graffiti and the texture of the floor.

    My caption: And I thought 'it hit me like a tonne of bricks' was a metaphor.

  12. All of the photos are lovely, and it sounds like you had a grand adventure! (See, it would've been much less exciting if the first mill had still existed.)

    Caption: Ah, the fragant breeze of crumbled mills and broken characters. Just what my muse needed.

  13. Really great photos and you have a great story to go with them.

  14. Ha! We totally got in trouble taking my author photos too! Great pic.

    Caption: Sarah looked away as her dreams of freshly milled flour crumbled around her, settling for an author photo instead.

  15. Cool photos! Great pic! (I have fun with too many !s too. :-)

    I'd call it Staring into Dystopia.

  16. First - you're gorgeous.

    You have this smilefrown that evokes a very A.S. King and Andrew Smith author photo vibe for me, which, as you know, I love.

    Other than that, having now known you for over a year, it's nice to know you're not really a fat old sweaty white guy, pretending to be an author and psychologist for fun on the internet. Or was that a Law and Order SVU Plot?

    1. Matt, you are a total hoot, you know that?!

      And... are you really Yoda, or a svelte Princess Leia, taking us all for a ride in your shiny QueryStar?

  17. Definitely a great picture :)

  18. Beautiful story, beautiful photo... excellent job Rebecca!

  19. OMG, what a story!!!! VERY memorable.

    I LOVE your photo--so pretty!!!! *hugs*

  20. LOVE the photos! Your story is hilarious. Go figure that your timing was just so that those men showed up at that exact moment you were there. So is life!

  21. Photos are usually better when there's a good story behind them.

    Here's my caption:

    Sarah, having already perfected her withering stare on the surrounding forest, looks ahead with a mixture of bemusement and fear after realizing a slight adjustment would allow her to also reduce things to rubble.

  22. Photos are usually better when there's a good story behind them.

    Here's my caption:

    Sarah, having already perfected her withering stare on the surrounding forest, looks ahead with a mixture of bemusement and fear after realizing a slight adjustment would allow her to also reduce things to rubble.

  23. Beautiful lady, awesome photo -- can't imagine why you avoid the camera.

    Okay, here's my caption:

    Rubble? "No," she smiles. "Infinite possibilities."

  24. Hah! Your photographer sounds like a bad-ass. :) The pictures turned out great!


    As the blaring of the sirens grew louder, Sarah thought to herself, "Any publicity is good publicity."

  25. Very lovely.

    Caption: How *kind* of you to stop calling my book a pile of rubble.

  26. Great photo and GREAT story behind it :D


  27. "...I knew I shouldn't have pulled out that loose brick."

  28. What a great picture! And the story is priceless. :) I'll think on a caption for you.

  29. Love the photos, and the story made me lol.

    As for a caption "It was totally like that when I got here, I swear!"

  30. Sarah, you are now an official internet sensation, with avatars aplenty. First, Stick Woman, now Destructiva, and then there's also S.E. Fine! (When do we get to see those photos?)

    Here's a couple of captions:

    Rebecca, about those bricks?? I thought you said 'Lego,' not 'Let go.'


    "I wouldn't have had to use my Warrior Princess powers if those mill dudes had come out when I said so."

  31. Love your picture, but I love the story more. Glad you didn't get arrested! (Also, not schneizeleffort at all. I'm proud!)

    My caption for your pic: "Just as planned."

  32. "Siri, add 'sister's funeral' to my calender and take off 'shoe shopping.'"

    (Seriously bummed someone else did the the 3 Little Pigs first)

    Love the contrast in the different shades of light and the texture of those cinder blocks.

  33. What a great story! You got busted too! You are so pretty, I don't know why you don't like getting your photo taken. Caption? "What I won't do for my art."

  34. I've loved your blog for a long time now, but I've never commented. I work with criminalized youth, and I've found a lot of your posts to be very helpful in understanding some of the issues my clients have. I'm also a (very closeted) writer, too.
    Here's my caption: Bricka's Aphasia - Author Sarah E. Fine rendered speechless by near arrest and resulting uncomfortable seating for her portrait.

  35. They look great! Your official author photo is so beautiful. I can imagine the caption right now...

    There once was a girl named Sarah
    Whose face couldn't be any fairer
    She bemoaned her sore bottom
    Cuz the bricks, she sat on 'em
    And thinks all photo shoots are a terror!

    Awful, but it's my first limerick, so there!

  36. Great photos, and it broke my heart to hear they'd knocked down such a picturesque abandoned mill (I'm a photographer too). We have a great old "castle" that I"ve been documenting the restoration efforts, and I heard they recently started restoring the infirmary--which means this great work of art will likely disappear:

    Anyway, glad your story was interesting enough without adding an arrest to it! And I'm plumb out of caption ideas.

  37. I think Blogger ate my caption. Here: "They said I'd regret never cleaning my house. Shows what they know."

  38. Great pics! Fantastic story. I never knew author photos were so complicated.

    Caption: Now what was that about the housework?

  39. "Damn. That baby trex has been here."

  40. What an absolutely beautiful photo.

    My caption: 'Critic? What critic? I didn't see no critic ...'

  41. Hey, that's a great photo (the last one)! I think you're saying, "I can't believe I almost got arrested for this." :D

    What a funny story--and having worked with photographers, I know how they are about being determined to get that shot. Glad you guys were able to get it done. Best~ :o) <3

  42. *Tearing Down Walls Builds Character*

    Sarah, LOVE the pics! As you can see, you did not succeed in scaring anybody off with your beautiful face! It matches your spirit perfectly. And will make an AWESOME author photo for SANCTUM! Can't wait to see it there!

  43. hi miss sarah! woweee! cool picture! youre sooooooo pretty. i didnt have no idea youre way young cause when i go at my brothers work all those psych doctors are mostly way old. im wondering how come you guys didnt just say what you were doing and ask those mill guys to go inside. maybe you could of gave them some money. but maybe it couldnt be so smart to go in there with them. i love love love your picture and the first thing i thought of for that caption was from that post i just did a little while back called a writers life and i put two things from it together and came up with "writing… mental rock breaking with a slight touch of insanity."
    ...hugs from lenny

  44. First,

    This was a riveting read... The photo is also amazing.. congrats..

    now for that lucid caption...

    "There's beauty in the least likely of places ..."

  45. Awwwww.....look..there you are! And so pretty! That is truly a great author photo.

    Time for a caption:

    "Yeah...I knocked it down. You got a problem with that?"

  46. Gorgeous pics all the way around.

    As for a caption, short and sweet: Beauty among the ruins

  47. All the pictures are super, and I would've loved to have been trekking through the ruins with you guys. Sounds like a blast. As for a caption for that last shot: "Psychiatrist Smiles After Breaking Through Emotional Walls"

  48. All the pictures are super, and I would've loved to have been trekking through the ruins with you guys. Sounds like a blast. As for a caption for that last shot: "Psychiatrist Smiles After Breaking Through Emotional Walls"

  49. WOW those are "edgy" author photos. LOVE. I'm going to ask for mine to be different too!