I got in my time machine and traveled to 1850, Concord, Massachusetts, and the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne. I knocked at the door and when the author opened and answered, I leaned in, my nose in his jacket, and took a deep sniff. There’s something about truly smelling an author. Sure, you can read their book, and get into the inner workings of their vast minds. But there’s something raw, crunchy, carnal, and cosmic when you take a good whiff of the writer. Hawthorne understood. He stood still while I partook. He knew I needed more than his words could supply. When I got it, I stepped back and thanked him. He nodded and wished me the best.

Recently I time traveled to October 1863, San Raphael, California, and the publishing offices of the Overland Monthly. I walked into the office of writer Bret Harte. He asked how he could help me, I said, “Excuse me,” and leaned in and took a deep inhale. Bret waited patiently. When I was done, I thanked him and left. I’d never read Bret’s writings, but he was especially close with Mark Twain, and I wanted to get that Twain spoor through him. I had tried to get it from Twain, but he refused saying author sniffing was sure bunk.

And then there was that time I ventured to July 1816, Geneva, to the Maison Chapuis, the summer home of the writer Mary Shelley. Mary was out back, writing in a chaise lounge. I got excited because I’d never inhaled an author while they wrote. I didn’t want to be pushy like I’d been with the men, and asked her if it was okay if I took a snuffle while she scribed. She asked if instead she might sniff me while she wrote, incorporating my aroma into the character she was bringing to life. I acquiesced and she took me in. That book was Frankenstein.

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