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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Authors To Watch: Maureen Brady Author of Getaway





Though Maureen Brady wrote the humor column of her junior high school newspaper, she didn't actually comprehend that she was a writer until after she had moved to New York City in her twenties, where she began taking writing workshops at The New School and then fell headlong into the consciousness raising groups of the early 1970's.

She published her first novel, Give Me Your Good Ear, in 1979, and it was published by The Women's Press in England in 1981. Her novel, Folly, was excerpted in Southern Exposure, received wide critical acclaim, was nominated by Adrienne Rich for an ALA Gay Book Award and was reprinted as a classic by The Feminist Press. She published a collection of short stories, The Question She Put to Herself, in 1987, then turned to writing nonfiction in the '90's, publishing Daybreak: Meditations for Women Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Midlife: Meditations for Women. She returned to fiction with the novel, Ginger's Fire, and her most recent novel, Getaway.

Her recent work has appeared in Sinister Wisdom, Bellevue Literary Review; Just Like A Girl; Cabbage and Bones: Irish American Women's Fiction, Mom, In the Family, and Intersections: An Anthology of Banff Writers. Brady's essays and stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and were finalists for the Katherine Anne Porter Fiction Prize and the Nelsen Algren Short Story contest.

An Adjunct Assistant Professor, she teaches creative writing at New York University and New York Writers Workshop @ the Jewish Community Center, and works as a free-lance editor and tutor, helping writers across the spectrum take their writing to the next stage.

A co-founder of Spinsters Ink, Brady edited such books as The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde and The Woman Who Breathes Fire by Kitty Tsui. She also served as a panelist for The New York State Council on the Arts Literature Program and as a fiction judge for Oregon Literary Arts. She is a founding member of The New York Writers Workshop and has long served as Board President of Money for Women Barbara Deming Memorial Fund.

She has received grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation; New York State Council on the Arts Writer-in-Residence; New York State Council on the Arts CAPS grant; Holding Our Own; Briarcombe Foundation; and The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellowship to The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland. She was the winner of the Saints and Sinners short story contest for 2015 and is also a Saints and Sinners Hall of Fame winner.

She lives in New York City and Woodstock with her long term partner, Martha, and their joy dog, Bessie.

 Visit Maureen’s website at www.maureenbradyny.com.



Title: GETAWAY
Author: Maureen Brady
Publisher: Bacon Press Books
Pages: 230
Genre: Women’s Fiction

BOOK BLURB:
After stabbing her abusive husband and leaving him dying on the kitchen floor, Cookie Wagner flees to remote Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. For a moment, she seems to have gotten away with murder. But, consigned to a secretive life with a new name and the need to be on constant alert, she faces all she has not gotten away with. She is helped by the recently widowed Mrs. Biddle, who offers her a place to stay, and the lobster fisherman Butch, who gives her a job and later falls in love with her. Walking the cliffs and beaches, taking in the scruffy windblown plants that survive the buffeting wind by growing at an angle, she begins to heal.

Yet, there is no leaving behind the notion that Warren is dead as the result of her action.
Or is he? And if not, will he one day come to find her?

Sexual harassment and abuse are all over the news these days, often involving celebrites and other well-known figures, but Cookie, the protagonist of Getaway, is no celebrity. She’s an ordinary woman married to a working class guy who drinks too much and resorts to violence. Their story reveals how endemic the phenomenon of abuse is, and the quandary Cookie lands in when she fights back.

Praise for Getaway:

“Sensitive, sensual, and stirring. "Getaway" is a true page-turner, but one with heart and with context. I couldn’t put it down until I got to the end, not just to find out what happened, but also to discover who these intriguing and complex characters would develop into. An extremely satisfying read!”

Danielle Ofri, author of What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear, Editor-in-Chief, Bellevue Literary Review.

Getaway is available at Amazon.



We welcome you to My Bookish Pleasures! Can you tell us how you got started writing fiction?

I started by reading. When I was a child, I thought I would try to read right down the shelf from A to B to C, in the kid’s section of my local library where I often went after school, to wait for my mother to finish working at a hospital across the street. As I grew older, I often had the thought when I finished a book (and I didn’t think it fair not to read them all the way through) that I could have written it better. Still, I had little confidence about my ability and even in college was afraid to take a writing class because I feared I would be too devastated if what I wrote turned out to be no good. But after college, when I was hungry for more release for my imagination, I took the big step of signing up for a class at The New School called First Fiction. There were about 20 or more students and only 2 or 3 of us really wrote, but I was like a ripe fig about to drop off a tree, and when the teacher said write, I went for it and wrote 3 or 4 very short stories during that semester. 

Then I completed my first novel, Give Me Your Good Ear, and published it, and the passion for writing never left me.

 Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?

 I might have a few plot ideas, but mostly I subscribe to the idea that I have entered a dark tunnel and can only see as far ahead of me as the car lights shine. So the only way to go forward is to write down what I can see and then I will be able to see the next part. So the story develops for me as I go along. I have a small writing studio across a stream from my house. It is a little red out building I renovated to give myself quiet space. It looks upon the stream and then a meadow where the deer come to feast at sunset and sunrise. When possible I try to write in the morning before other life challenges start demanding attention. 
 
What do you find most rewarding about writing? 

It provides a constant challenge to stretch yourself when you don’t feel you can go any further, and a chance to spend time in the imagination. Also, when a story comes together in a way that moves me, then I feel there is a good chance it will move others and that is a good feeling. I also realize that I enjoy the privilege of having this way to express myself, and it’s hard to imagine living without such a resource. 

Can you tell us about your most recent release?

Sexual abuse and harassment are all over the news these days, often involving celebrities and well-known sports figures, but Cookie, the protagonist of Getaway, is no celebrity. She’s an ordinary woman married to a working class guy who drinks too much and turns to violence. Their story reveals how endemic the phenomenon of abuse is, and the quandary Cookie lands in when she fights back.

After stabbing her husband and leaving him dying on the kitchen floor, she flees to remote Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. For a moment, she seems to have gotten away with murder. But, consigned to a secretive life with a new name and the need to be on constant alert, she faces all she has not gotten away with. She is helped by the recently widowed Mrs. Biddle, who offers her a place to stay, and the lobster fisherman Butch, who gives her a job and later falls in love with her. Walking the cliffs and beaches, taking in the scruffy windblown plants that survive the buffeting wind by growing at an angle, she too begins to grow at an angle. 

Yet, there is no leaving behind the notion that Warren is dead as the result of her action. Or  if he is not, will he one day come to find her? 

How did you get the idea for the book? 

I started with an exercise I use in fiction writing classes, taken from John Gardner, in which I instruct them to write a scene in which a person who has just committed a murder comes upon a body of water. So after a 20 minute free write, I had Cookie bushwhacking around Cooper Lake, a reservoir in the Catskills I frequent for walks, having just stabbed her abusive husband. And then it took off from there. 

Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?

 Cookie is my favorite in Getaway, because it is really her survival and then the development of self that she gains when getting out from under Warren that captivated me. But I am also partial to Chrissie, an adolescent girl who befriends Cookie, because Chrissie is so vulnerable and yet so full of the potential to spring into life. 

What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book? 

Bringing Warren to life and cracking his character so that he would be three-dimensional and not just “the bad guy”.

What projects are you currently working on?

 I am working on a collection of short stories, as yet untitled. Several of them have been published in journals such as Bellevue Literary Journal and Sinister Wisdom, or anthologies such as Just Like A Girl, Cabbage and Bones: Irish American Women’s Fiction, and Saints and Sinners New Fiction from the Festival (winner of the fiction contest for 2015). 

After that I would like to write an historical novel about the immigration of my Irish ancestors during the potato famine.

What advice would you offer to new or aspiring fiction authors?

Stick to writing the book you want to write. Enjoy the process, both for how it will stretch you further than you thought possible, and for the privilege of having an endeavor that you can give your all to.

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