The first edition will go out of print sometime next year, in preparation for the updated new edition. If you prefer the black & gold cover, get yours soon! Click on the cover.
Things are coming along nicely on 222 Cemeteries to See Before You Die. Since my last update, my editor went over the text, but didn’t make many changes except to rein me in when I went on too long. I loved the photos she chose for illustrations. There were a few cemeteries where we couldn’t find good images — but I had pictures of the Canadian churchyard and some of the Facebook cemetery groups submitted photos of the other two. I am really pleased with how lovely the update is going to be.
Last week, the copy editor sent me her notes. She’s the person on the editorial team who doublechecks all the names, dates, and statistics. She was really thorough and I am completely relieved. There’s nothing better than an editorial team who’s got your back.
I think the next time I see the book will be after the designer finishes with it. I’ve already seen a draft of the beautiful new cover. I can’t wait to be able to share it.
I think we’re ahead of schedule for 222 Cemeteries to See Before You Die to come out in Autumn 2024.
I got yet another draft of the Death’s Garden Revisited ebook back from that book’s designer. We’ve had a huge struggle with those ebooks because all the photos made the book too large to upload to a Kindle.
I think we’ve gotten the problem sorted finally. I want to go over everything one last time before I release it into the world. Fingers crossed that it will be out in September 2023.
The hardcover and paperback are already for sale on Blurb.com. You can get 20% off with the code AUGBSTORE20 until August 16!
In and around everything else, I’ve been chiseling away at the essays for Still Wish You Were Here. This is the sequel to Wish You Were Here, my cemetery travel memoir from a couple of years ago. The first book started with me discovering Highgate Cemetery in 1991 and stretched almost to my daughter’s birth in 2003. The new book overlaps the first one some, then will carry me all the way to buying my dad’s headstone earlier this year.
As you can guess, there’s some deeply emotional stories in it, so the book has been a challenge to work on this year. I feel like I’m finally in a better place to get the work done.
The scope of the book is still shifting, but it looks like the book will include 35 essays, visiting cemeteries from San Francisco’s Mission Dolores to the gate of Hell in Kyoto. I’m not sure how many cemeteries in all I will be able to squeeze into the book — that depends on how many I can cram into the introduction! At this moment, I have plans to write about visiting eight countries and eight American states: roughly 45 cemeteries so far.
I had really hoped to get Still Wish You Were Here out in October, but that’s not going to happen. I’d rather have it perfect than timely. I think the new publication date will be in the spring next year.
The primary cemetery project I worked on last year was the Kickstarter and publication of Death’s Garden Revisited: Personal Relationships with Cemeteries.
The book was the culmination of a dream I’ve held for decades. It collects 40 powerful personal essays — accompanied by glorious full-color photographs — to illuminate the reasons people visit cemeteries. Spanning the globe from Iceland to Argentina and from Portland to Prague, Death’s Garden Revisited explores the complex web of relationships between the living and those who have passed before.
I could not be prouder of how this beautiful book turned out. You can get a copy of your own from Blurb.com.
I’ve been working on another collection of my own cemetery travel essays, a sequel to Wish You Were Here. Still Wish You Were Here will be a collection of 35 (or so) cemeteries, exploring graveyards from the California Gold Country to Rome, Singapore, and Tokyo. I’d hoped to have it finished by the end of 2022, but family trouble complicated that. The paperback will be out this summer.
I only gave one lecture in 2022. I presented “Using Crowdfunding to Support Cemetery Projects” during the online conference for the Association for Gravestone Studies on 6/9/22.
Short Cemetery Nonfiction:
I had a bunch of short pieces published, most of them in connection with promoting Death’s Garden Revisited.
I was almost interviewed about cemeteries at the last minute by the BBC! It was the day after we’d moved into our new house and I didn’t yet know where my microphone was so, in the end, I was relieved that they booked someone else. I had a really nice interaction with the showrunner, though. Maybe this year?
Doing my first kickstarter this year was one of the most intense months of my life. Death’s GardenRevisited raised more than $5k. The campaign was chosen by Kickstarter as a Project We Love.
I hosted my first Ask Me Anything on Twitter. So many great cemetery questions! I look forward to doing another this year.
Dr. Sharon Pajka hosted a Cemetery Happy Hour. A handful of Death’s Garden contributors created cocktails to celebrate their favorite cemeteries. Check out this very fun and short video: https://youtu.be/H5BN8WWZq-c
It’s that time again, when everyone’s fancies turn to cemeteries. I’ve been out there, talking up the joys of visiting graveyards.
Horror Addicts focused the last hour of their October podcast on Death’s Garden Revisited. Horror hostess Emerian Rich (also a contributor to the book) interviewed me, then contributors E.M. Markoff, Francesca Maria, and Brian Thomas read tastes of their essays. If you’re trying to get in the mood for the season, check it out.
The National Funeral Directors Association interviewed me about 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Death’s Garden Revisited for their podcast, Remembering a Life.
The Washington Post asked me for some context for recipes appearing on headstones: They’re To Die For.
199 Cemeteries inspired another Washington Post journalist to begin exploring cemeteries. Along the way, she talked to a lot of taphophiles I’ve met via twitter. You have to love her headline: Why We Love a Good Cemetery.
In and around all of that, I’ve been getting the copies of Death’s Garden Revisited in the mail to the contributors and the Kickstarter backers. If you’d like a copy of your own (and who wouldn’t? It’s gorgeous!), you can click on the book cover above and be taken to Blurb.com. It’s available in hardcover and oversized paperback now. The ebook version should be coming soon.
I began this blog in February 2011, which blows my mind: 11 years, more than 600 posts, over half a million views ago.
In February 2011, I had already published 3 books: an anthology of political essays about North America at the end of the 20th century, an anthology of cemetery essays, and Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues, an anthology of essays drawn from my 10 years of editing Morbid Curiosity magazine.
For the better part of six years, I’d also written a monthly column about visiting cemeteries for Gothic.Net. By 2011, I’d put together the manuscript that would become Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel and my agent was looking for a home for it. We were hobbled, though, because my agent couldn’t quite grasp why anyone would want to visit a cemetery.
While I was trying to persuade her — and waiting for a publisher to say yes — I decided to start this blog. Amazingly enough, no one had snatched up CemeteryTravel.com yet, so the domain was mine for a song. I learned WordPress, set up a website, and wrote my first post. I repurposed that as the Welcome to this blog.
The last 11 years have been a wonderful ride. I’ve met so many people through this blog — other bloggers, cemetery authors & photographers, tour guides, restorers, historians, genealogists, and more — people who have an attachment to just one graveyard and people like me who will explore every cemetery they come across.
I used this platform to research and write 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and collected some of my favorite photographs into the Cemetery Travels Notebook. I’ve used feedback from blog readers to update Wish You Were Here.
Readers supported me through 2020, when two publishers contacted me about new cemetery books and both proposals fell through. (Oh, 2020, why did you have to be so mean?) Someday, I’ll work my way back around to those books and finish them at last.
Contributors to this blog will appear in the book I’m putting together now, the sequel to the original Death’s Garden published all the way back in 1995. I am so excited about Death’s Garden Revisited! The essays are funny, heartbreaking, and lovely — and focus on cemeteries all around the world. I cannot wait for you to see it.
Here’s to another 11 years of Cemetery Travel. Thank you for being along for the ride!
199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die came out four years ago today. My encyclopedia of graveyards, tombs, and burial places spanned the US and circled the globe. It never stood a chance at being comprehensive, but I tried to make it as wide-ranging as possible.
I’m not sure if it’s obvious to anyone but me, but 199 Cemeteries is my most intentionally political book. From the start, I didn’t want it to be a collection of stories about dead White men, so I knew I would include Black History, Native American heroes, and Suffragettes. The real turning point for me, though, came the morning after the 2016 election.
Powazaki Cemetery of Poland, whose records were destroyed during World War II
In the fall of 2016, I joined a group called Shut Up & Write that met on Wednesday mornings at the Borderlands Cafe in San Francisco’s Mission District. We sat down at the big tables in the back of the cafe and everyone said their name and what they intended to work on that morning. Then we put our heads down over our own writing and silently worked for several hours.
By November, I’d learned most of everyone’s names and their recurring projects, but I hadn’t really gotten to know any of them. We were pleasant acquaintances, nothing more. Still, when I’d gone to bed on election day, Hillary Clinton was winning. When I got up the next morning, I could not believe the news. I thought about taking the day off but, to be honest, I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted to bury myself in work. And, election or no, I had a deadline to complete 199 Cemeteries by the end of January. I couldn’t afford to get depressed.
The Jewish Cemetery of Chernivitsi, Ukraine
In a daze, frightened for my kid and my friends, I packed up my laptop and notes and went to Borderlands. Z’ev, the cafe manager, was kind. I settled at the table in the back and watched the other writers drift in. We all talked briefly about our disappointment and shock, our sense of betrayal by the rest of the country. I discovered how much more we had in common than just our creative pursuits.
As the writing session progressed, people wept silently. We passed a box of tissues back and forth. Some of them were simply journaling. Others were writing letters to the editor or outlining articles or penning essays. I sat there with my cemetery notes, wondering how I could possibly make sense of what had just happened…and became increasingly angry.
The Soul-Consoling tower at the Manzanar concentration camp.
My inclusive table of contents morphed. I believe fiercely that humans have more in common than we have differences. I believe that we are all in this together, all of us around the world. We have to get along right here, care for each other right here, and care for the earth. We have one planet. There is nowhere for us to go.
So my table of contents expanded. I wanted to include the Islamic prophets and the artists of Russia, the Apartheid martyrs of South Africa, the world’s indigenous cultures, if they welcomed visitors to their burial grounds. I wanted to examine the legacies of genocide and racism and war. I wanted to make the point — 199 times — that we are all going to end up dead. What matters, what will be remembered, is what we do right here, right now.
My contribution to making the world a better place, as small as it might be, is 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die.
Monument to the Native warriors killed at the Little Bighorn National Monument, placed more than a century after the battle.
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