Monday, October 10, 2016

City of Weird Contributor: Brigitte Winter

Now that City of Weird is out and in stores, I thought I'd write a little about each of the wonderful contributors. I'm going to do it one at a time, generally as a lead up to one of our events. As our Powell's City of Books book launch is coming up on Wednesday, September 12th (facebook event page is here), I'm starting with those authors. Today: Brigitte Winter.


I had never met Brigitte Winter before accepting her story "Octopocalypse: a Love Story" for City of Weird. She's a longtime Portland-lover but lives on the East Coast. We're lucky to be having her fly out to be part of the book launch.

"Octopocalypse" fit right into City of Weird with its giant man-eating octopus, but what I really loved the story for was its subtle but wicked sense of humor, it's steamy, sexy scenes, and most of all, the beautiful, gentle, real way the relationship between the characters of the sisters was written. When I had all my stories chosen and was looking for a figure to carry the book cover, I zeroed in on Brigitte's octopus right away. It really was no contest. I kept this secret from Brigitte as I was building the octopus and creating the design, but when she flew in to Portland and we met for the first time, when I had the design down but hadn't made the final adjustments yet, I gave her a sneak peek, a flash of the image on my phone, and it was fun to see her laugh.

We met at Vintage Cocktail Lounge in Montavilla, the actual setting where characters Kathy and eMa (that's no typo) meet at the beginning of the love story portion of the tale. When I arrived, Brigitte and her life partner Dustin were already there, along with a pal octopus. They told me Dustin had originally come up with the name Octopocalypse, and it has been used not only for this story, but an art show that they launched together in Baltimore.

Art is a central theme in Brigitte's short story, as well as her life. She's a fabulous jewelry maker and is the executive director of Young Playwrights’ Theater, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that inspires young people to realize the power of their voices through creative writing.

Here's a little snippet of her lovely piece "Octopocalypse: a Love Story" to give you a taste of her work:

I should have noticed something was wrong when the cats started disappearing, but I was too busy falling in love. 

Her name was eMa—the lowercase letters embracing a single uppercase M. She changed the spelling when her art was good enough to sign, she told me. “eMa has nice symmetry.” 

eMa had electric blue hair and her nose was pierced like a bull. She only wore circa 1950s dresses from House of Vintage, and she made her own jewelry out of junk she found at the ReBuilding Center on Mississippi—lots of hinges and screws and other tiny hardware glued to old brooches she bought at estate sales. She was as weird as everyone in Portland, but also like no one I’d ever met— definitely like no one back home in Connecticut. eMa was Portland, and she was beautiful, and she was exactly why I moved here.

You can check out Brigitte's writing and jewelry at

For more info on the Octopocalypse art show, you can check out the facebook event page here.

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