One day I decided to try out an exercise taken from John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction to see what it would provoke. It’s an exercise I’ve often used in my fiction classes, instructing writers to write a scene in which someone who has just committed a murder comes out to a body of water, but you are not to mention the murder. The idea is to make writers aware of how things are often more effective when described obliquely. So twenty minutes of free-writing later, Cookie had stabbed Warren and was bushwhacking her way around Cooper Lake, a reservoir near where I live in the Catskills I frequent for walks. At first I thought it was a short story, and I intended to write a series of short stories about characters that lived in the remote village Cookie made her way to after she fled. I was thinking of a book I admire, Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. But after I wrote a couple of these stories, the material seemed to demand to be put into a novel. Then it took on momentum of its own. And the challenge became to depict how can this woman begin to heal in the relative safety of this faraway place with a changed identity?.Cookie was helped to survive by connections to a couple of kind people and the thriller-type opening morphed into a story of second chances.
The manuscript appealed to one of the literary agents I queried and she took it on and circulated it among commercial presses for quite a while. Although there was interest expressed in some places, after some time with it not finding a home, I decided to send it to small presses as well. I entered a few contests and sent to several other small presses and one of them, Bacon Press Books, took it on and has done a great job with it. And my agent has continued to work with me, sending it out for audio rights and through the scouts she uses, will try to sell foreign rights.
About the Author
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.