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Author Interview – Maggie Harryman

How long have you been writing? So long I don’t even remember anymore.  I also work as a commercial copywriter so even my day job is writing.

When did you first know you could be a writer? I think when I went to graduate school at San Francisco State.  I worked with Francis Mayes, Anne Rice and Molly Giles.  They were all working, well-published writers who later went of to do great things.  I knew then it was possible.

What genre are you most comfortable writing? Definitely literary fiction although I think I have a mystery in me.  Having said that, I maintain that every story is a mystery.

Who or what influenced your writing over the years? I would have to say people like Richard Russo—I’m drawn to “big” stories with a lot of characters and a strong plot.  Also Jane Smiley and Richard Ford.

What made you want to be a writer? I started writing stories at a very young age so I’m not exactly sure.  I do remember being excited—literally heart pumping excited—when I realized I could create characters out of thin air.  I also love language, the lyrical nature of words.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? I suppose it’s that no one’s asking you to do it, it’s all self generated and for little or no guarantee that what you create with even be read (although the self-publishing model has changed that somewhat). In fact, people generally find it strange when you say you’re a writer. There just isn’t a whole lot of support.  So I think writing in general and novel writing in particular is a huge act of faith.  Writing also requires a lot of self-discipline.  And a lot of bum glue!

Can you share a little of your current work with us? Here Among Us is about a family that comes together at Thanksgiving to discuss their mother’s failing health. When the story opens we’re catching all four characters at a moment in time when their habitual way of being is about to give way.  In Flynn’s case, she’s already lost her job but she’s about to lose her mother, her own identity and whatever beliefs she’s clung to about her father.  At one point in the book she really feels like she’s got nothing left and it shakes her to her core.  Her sister, Maeve is in a similar boat but for different reasons.  Osheen, the girls’ brother is also at a turning point in his life—a place that requires him to make some decisions about what he wants.

How did you come up with the title? I was back east for the holidays and picked up a book of Irish poetry at my sister’s house.  The words, here among us, where in a line of poetry from some ancient poem whose name I didn’t recognize.  It struck me because in the book  was writing, the adult children come to realize (each in their own ways) that their long dead father is, in fact, always with them.  Hence, here among us.

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – R (Strong language, adult themes)

More details about the author & the book

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