Thursday, May 17, 2018

Interview with Women's Fiction Author Maureen Brady #VBT

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

What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?

I wrote the humor column in my junior high newspaper, wanted to take writing classes in college but was afraid I would be too devastated if the teacher were to tell me what I wrote was no good. A few years out of college, I moved to New York City and was working full time as a Physical Therapist and I decided to risk taking a class called First Fiction at The New School. When the teacher said write, I wrote like crazy, got some positive feedback in the class, and never stopped writing. It became a passion for me and as I shortened my working hours in my other profession and wrote my
first novel, then second, and so forth.

Do you have a day job?  What do you do?

As I said, I worked as a PT, first in hospitals, then I taught PT at a couple of colleges, then I went into private practice and continued to work part time for many years both to support my writing, and because I also had a fulfilling career in that field.

Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?

#1: Don’t quit your day job, but try to find ways to allow yourself writing time on a consistent basis. #2: Enjoy the process, the full immersion in the imagination that makes time pass unnoticed so you look up and suddenly 3 hours have passed in what seemed like a minute. #3: Seek the things to write about that compel you so it will not be a labor when you have to go back over and over, reworking them.

Do you let unimportant things get in the way of your writing?

 I try not to, but inevitably they do. I try to write before anything else gets started in the morning, in part because I feel closest to the creative spirit if I’m not too far from waking up, and in part because it’s best to get started before the critic gets up and wants to stand over me and have a say.

How often do you write?

When I’m working on a project, I like to try to get in a couple of hours every day. However, I teach writing and edit others, so often there are days when I have to skip my own writing. If there are too many days in between, then it takes more effort to get back to it.

Are you an avid reader?

 Yes, I have always loved to read and feel that my imagination feeds off good, stimulating writing. Right now I am reading Homesick for Another World, stories by Ottessa Moshfegh ,whose novel, Eileen, I just finished. Also, Carmen Maria Machado’s, My Body and Other Parties. Recently, I read Jessmyn West’s novel, Sing, Unburied Sing and Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere.

What are you currently working on?

 I’m working on a collection of short stories, as yet untitled. Some of them have been published in literary journals such as Bellevue Literary Journal or Sinister Wisdom, some have been anthologized in Cabbage and Bones: An Anthology of Irish American Women’s Fiction; Like Light: 25 Years of Poetry and Prose by Bright Hill Poets & Writers; and Lovers.

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