Peterborough author puts out collection of eerie stories

  • Robert Lawson of Peterborough has published a collection of stories titled “Geometric Cemetery.” Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Robert Lawson of Peterborough has published a collection of stories titled "Geometric Cemetery." Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Friday, August 11, 2017 10:30AM

What if you woke up one morning and everything had changed overnight? That’s the dilemma that the protagonist of Robert Lawson’s new story collection is faced with, over and over again.

“Geometric Cemetery” tells the tale — tales, really — of Nicholas Raithe, an “everyman” who wakes up a world that is somehow ... different. One day, all the spaces between words start to disappear. Another, the function of gravity appears to have changed.

“The things around him have shifted in some way and usually catastrophically,” Lawson said at an interview in his Peterborough office.

Raithe takes it all in stride, and when each story ends and the next begins, all seems to be forgotten, a sort of “Groundhog Day” scenario without the character’s self-awareness.

“I don’t know if it’s the state of the climate or of the world or what’s going on,” Lawson said. “It’s almost like the world has decided in these stories that it’s tired of us and it wants to get rid of us like we’re this bad parasite. So it tries all these different ways, and when it doesn’t work, or doesn’t do what it wants, or enough, it resets itself and we go back and try another tack.”

The first story in the collection came to Lawson in a situation not unlike his character’s experience. Lawson said he woke up one morning — in the middle of the night, really — with an idea he couldn’t shake. He wrote nearly the entire thing by dictating into a record that day, and from there he was on his way to an anthology.

“It’s happened to all of us, hasn’t it?” he said. “You look at the recent political election, or 9/11, there are moments where you kind of wake up and all bets are off, and you don’t know what the ramifications of that are going to be. I think that happens, sometimes bombastically, and sometimes it’s written small.

“Geometric Cemetery” is available on Amazon and at the Toadstool Bookshop, and in the future, it may be a feature film, as Lawson has optioned the screenplay, which would star Hancock native and actor Sam Huntington. Lawson directed Huntington at the Peterborough Players some twenty-odd years ago; after the boy hit it big in “Jungle 2 Jungle” and went on to have a successful acting career, the two have reunited on this project.

“It's been really fun to work with him,” Lawson said. “He's a great guy, smart and talented.”

Lawson has another local collaborator on the book as well — his wife, Sally Bomer, who lent her “Shadow Series” artwork to the book’s cover and interstitial pages. The shadowy images add to the already-surreal environment Lawson created.

“Her work just works well with the title and the idea of the stories,” Lawson said.

Ultimately, “Geometric Cemetery” can be seen as a commentary on the fragility of everyday life, how one little change can set the dominoes in motion, until the world as we know it is irreparably changed.

“All” those things that you wish you had done or took for granted are no longer possible,” Lawson said.