And to help us along with this, I am calling on your friend and mine, Whatever’s favorite recurring gimmick, the Fictional Interlocutor!
For the record, I’m not comfortable being called a gimmick.
I understand that entirely, and yet.
Hmmmph. Why are you bothering me now?
Because I want you to help me introduce the latest Scalzi acquisition!
(Rolls eyes) You know, there are only so many multi-necked guitars you can buy before the schtick gets old.
I understand that. Are you ready?
(Sighs) Fine, let’s get this over with.
Okay! Here’s the new thing:
Wow, what a surprise, you bought a new guitar.
Well, yes, but —
And it’s a three-string cigar box guitar with a silk-screened American flag! How very patriotic of you.
Thank you, but —
Only one neck, though. You’re slipping.
Well, look, one, not every guitar needs more than one neck. And two, the guitar isn’t actually the latest acquisition.
The guitar isn’t the latest acquisition.
So… you’re showing off what, then? New shoes? Is this kindergarten show and tell?
Not the shoes.
(Impatient) Then what? The jacket? The pants? That clearly obvious neck wattle?
It’s not a wattle.
All right, it’s new, it needs time to grow into a wattle. It’s a wattlette.
That’s not even a word, and no to all of those.
I give up. What is it?
Here, let me reframe the photo. Maybe that will help.
Okay, so, your latest acquisition is a court summons for trespassing at a local church.
Well, see, that’s the thing. I’m not trespassing.
What do you mean?
That’s the latest Scalzi acquisition.
You… bought a church?!?
A whole church.
I mean, who buys a fraction of a church?
I… you… just… Dude. A church.
Come on. Yes. I bought it. Actually, we bought it, since Krissy is on the title as well.
I need an excuse?
Yes, you really do.
Fine. For a while now, Krissy and I have been talking about how we wanted to get some additional space for long-term business plans that we have. We had looked at other property in Bradford, but it didn’t fit for what we wanted to do. So were thinking of buying some land locally and building some office and storage space on it. I opened up a real estate site to see what land parcels might be available nearby, and as it happened this church had literally come onto the market that day, a couple hours earlier. In terms of what we needed a space for, this building offered it, along with a fair number of other options as well.
We set up an appointment to see it, were convinced it was worth pursuing, and made an offer. They accepted it. And if people are reading this, it means we’ve actually closed on the deal, and we’re now officially the owners of the building. We own a church.
You’re not planning to, like, start a religion or anything.
Well, as it happens, Krissy and I are both ordained ministers.
It’s true. It’s useful to officiate weddings. But to be clear, no, we have no plans to start a religion. The track record of science fiction authors starting their own religions is, shall we say, spotty at best.
You say that now. But you have a church.
You’ll just have to trust me on this one.
And anyway, now you’re one of those people.
What do you mean?
Look, not everyone can just wake up, eat a donut and then buy a church on a whim.
I mean, it wasn’t a whim. As noted, we have practical reasons for wanting more space, and it just so happens that the space that best suited our needs locally came in the form of a church.
With that said, okay, sure. I’m now in that tier of authors with idiosyncratic real estate purchases. Some of these authors buy old movie theaters. Some buy Masonic temples. Some buy small islands. I’m getting a church. I’m not going to pretend it’s not a little eccentric. I actually like that. I will probably lean into it as we go along.
So, how much are churches going for these days, anyway?
A bit more than a six-necked guitar, but inasmuch as this is a church in a small rural community, possibly less than you might suspect. Suffice to say we wouldn’t have gotten it if we did not believe it was within our means. The odd musical purchase aside, Krissy and I are fairly conservative in how we spend our money. This is a long-term project and investment and we’ve budgeted for it as such.
What happened to the former owners? Did you defenestrate them or something?
There was no defenestration. The building was formerly owned by the Methodist Church, and as I understand it over time the congregation shrank and was merged with another congregation a bit down the road. When that happened, the Methodists didn’t need this building any more, and while they kept it in reasonably good repair (otherwise we wouldn’t have bought it), it wasn’t doing what it was intended to do for them, which was to be a place of worship and community. So they let it go to be useful to someone else, in this case, us.
How old is it?
It’s a little over eighty years old.
Is it haunted?
When word got out locally that we were buying the place, some former members of the congregation assured us that it was. However, if it is, they are Methodist ghosts, and I suspect that means they are reasonably friendly and that the haunting will be somewhat polite.
You should start a bookstore/goth club/restaurant/[insert some other idea here] in that space.
When you buy your own church, you can do any of those things you like! As for us, be assured that we do have plans, and that we will work toward them over time. Again, this is a long-term project for us. I will say that one thing that Krissy and I have talked about is the desire to have the building continue to be part of the community, rather than entirely removed from it. Bradford has been good to us over the years, and we would like to return the favor. How best to do that is something we still have to think about. But it’s very much part of our planning for the place.
What are you going to name it? Church of the Scalzi?
There’s already at least one of those, in Venice (right by the Scalzi Bridge!). But we might call it that, simply for convenience. I’m sure there will be other possible names: Church of the Infinite Burrito, First Assembly of the Bacon Cat, The Sacred Order of the Six-Necked Beast, and so on. If people have suggestions, they can leave them in the comments, along with any other questions they might have about the church, and us, and the fact that it’s our place now.
And I think that’s it for you today, fictional interlocutor.
I suppose so. But, dude.
You own a church.
I know. I know.
(Update: A follow-up post.)