The Write Space is a monthly Q&A series from Creative Collective covering a local writer and a North Shore space(s) s/he associates with writing. Questions? Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Give us your best writerly bio.
I’m both an artist and a writer, but the major part of my kaleidoscope of paying creative careers is in the visual arts. This includes teaching art, clothing design, web design, and even owning a self-publishing company. As a writer, I’ve published two novels OMG and The Closing, as well as the nonfiction picture book, Boston Dogs and an occasional poem.
As a visual artist, I’m intrigued with capturing both contemporary life and landscape in dramatic light, and it’s the same for writing where I try to spotlight characters who not only have personal struggles but deal with bigger and relatable life issues. I’m also interested in creating a strong sense of place, which in my head, feels like landscape painting. Originally from Ohio, I’ve lived in San Francisco, Iowa, and all over the Boston area, but mostly, on the North Shore. To me, it’s the most beautiful part, and I love the proximity to both nature and culture. I currently live in Newburyport with my cat and dog.
Tell us about a North Shore Write Space.
Wanting to nurture any fragile threads of ideas as they develop, I do my best work in quiet before my second cup of coffee kicks in, so I’ve never been a coffee shop writer. I love losing myself in a story I’m working on with my dog laying at my heels. Tucked in a corner of my art studio, my computer has an external monitor for graphic design projects and editing photos too, so I have to be careful not to let myself get distracted.
When I’m in the North Shore, not writing, I’m …
When I’m not writing, I’m taking my dog on scenic North Shore photo adventures, painting, or now that I am pretty much stuck at home, I’ve been cooking up a storm. Some of my favorite places on the North Shore are Lynn Woods, Winter Island, Halibut Point, and most recently, the rail trail in Newburyport, since the beaches are closed. Ordinarily, I would add Good Harbor Beach, Plum Island, and Salisbury Reservation to my list of favorite inspirational walks.
I’m a founding member of the New England Indie Authors Collective, and am involved with a small group of authors and performance artists who put on entertaining literary events. Over the past decade, I’ve hosted and produced five cable TV shows, the most recent being Jenny’s Muse at SATV. NEIAC is currently exploring cable show ideas as well as producing our own online events.
I’m also a member of the Marblehead Art Association, The Newburyport Art Association, and The Rocky Neck Art Colony as well as two writer’s groups.
What are you working on now?
I’ve begun a sequel to OMG called The Birthday Party. While OMG focused on Kylie, a troubled millennial entrepreneur who has a knack for trouble, the sequel explores Kylie’s relationship with her mother Allison, who is working on some issues herself. Of course, Kylie’s nosey side comes into play as she helps expose and heal a bit more nastiness.
And finally —
A snippet from The Birthday Party:
Allison pulls her shoulders back military-style before heading down her street, lined with bare trees. Although Allison loves her Lexington neighborhood in summer with its peaceful, country feel, the birds singing, and fragrant smell of fresh-cut grass, March is her month. It holds promise, like the triumphant crocuses boldly pushing their way through the earth, lining the flagstone walkway leading to Steele’s white colonial.
She’d watched Justin grow from a scrappy little boy who ran through her garden with his friends, to a clean-cut teenager who excelled on his debate team. She hadn’t seen him in a couple of years and is hoping that he isn’t quite as clean-cut as he seemed. She also hopes that he’ll answer the door so that she won’t have to chit-chat with his mother and make up some cockamamie excuse for why she is stopping by to see her son. Sandra Steele is a realtor, and hopefully, by now, she will be at work. Not knowing what she’ll say exactly, Allison reaches the door and rings the bell.
Moments later, a pair of bespectacled eyes peer through the glass panel on the red door. in swings open, and he emerges barefoot, towering over her on the stoop. He’s wearing rumpled khaki shorts over hairy legs and a baggy tee-shirt. Allison arches her neck to get a better glimpse of his sleepy, ultramarine eyes through his black-framed glasses.
“Justin Steele. I haven’t seen you in ages. Your voice has gotten so deep! How is school?”
“You’re a journalism major, right?”
“Right.” Justin angles his head, looking puzzled. “My Mom is at work. Is there something I can help you with?”
“Actually, yes.” She lowers her voice in case someone is lurking behind the door. “Look, I hope this doesn’t shock you, but I’m planning a tiny gathering for my birthday, and I’ve decided to have some, um, retro party treats. I thought maybe you could help me find what I need.”
He narrows his eyes. “I don’t know. What are we talking about here? Hostess cupcakes?” He smiles and dimples his cheeks. “I haven’t seen those for years. I know that they have a lot of sugar and chemicals, but they’re not what I’d consider shocking.”
She laughs. “Twinkies aren’t exactly what I have in mind. Frankly, I mean something more adult and from the Seventies.”
A big grin expands across in’s face. His blue eyes roll skyward. “Seriously, Mrs. Maynard?”
“What are you thinking?”
He laughs and looks at her hard. “Are you looking for some weed?”
Her face feels hot and she’s pretty sure that her cheeks are turning the color of cherries. “Actually, yes. Only because it’s sort of a retro thing with a couple of old friends, I’ve heard about, um, edibles. I thought that since you’re a college student, you might be able to help. I’m not medically certified and thought you must know where to get some since I can’t imagine myself going to some pot shop. Even if I did, I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
“Mrs. Maynard, now I am shocked.” He rolls his lips as if trying to contain a chuckle from exploding.
“No, I was kidding. Hey, I think it’s cool. Look, I have some stuff to do, but if you give me a day or so, I can probably help you. This will be between us though, okay?”
Giddy, she heads home, doubling over with a good belly laugh as she walks. Harriet Metzger looks up from her raking and yells across the street.
“Allison, are you okay?”
“Oh, yes, it was just a little momentary indigestion. I’m fine.” Allison waves and remembers to stand up straight. “I’ll talk to you later.”
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