#AUTHOR INTERVIEW: 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.



Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  When did you come up with the idea to write your book?


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 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 who 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.


Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?


As with any novel I’ve ever written, it is a lot of hard work and demands patience, close creative attention, sleepy time to keep dragging the next scene up onto shore from the ocean of the unconscious. And then a lot of finding good readers and getting feedback and reworking whatever is not working. In terms of the painful subject matter of sexual and domestic abuse, I had worked with this subject before, writing a meditation book for healing from childhood sexual abuse called Daybreak (HarperSanFranciso/Hazelden) in the ‘90’s, and I did a lot of research at that time. It amazes me and has been an uplifting experience that this book is still in print and consistently sells via word of mouth. Writing about this subject in fiction, I was able to write about Cookie’s healing even while her life is undermined by terror.

 A tip to pass on to other writers: There are times you may feel as if you cannot go back at your manuscript one more time, you are wrung out and cannot address one more problem. Those are times to relax back and take a bit of time and relieve yourself of the strain, and then when you do go back, you discover you are able to stretch once again, further than you thought you could. Then rejoice in that growth and appreciate how few things in life ever take 100% of you and what a pleasure it is to have a job that does this.



Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?


My publisher is Bacon Press Books, Washington DC, run by Michele Orwin. Getaway was circulated for some time to major publishing houses by my agent but failed to find a home. Then I began to send it around to small presses either by entering contests or sending it outright, and Bacon Press Books took it on and has done a great job with it.


Q: What other books are you working on and when will they be published?


I am currently working on a collection of short stories, not yet titled. Several of them have been published in literary magazines such as Bellevue Literary Review, Sinister Wisdom, and the anthologies, Cabbage and Bones: Fiction by Irish American Women, Just Like A Girl, Lovers, and Saints and Sinners: New Writing from the Festival 2015.


Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?


There’s a saying about fiction: No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. So perhaps what surprised me will also surprise the reader. Originally, I thought that Warren would be present in the opening scene and then die and be gone. But about 60 pages into the novel, I was surprised to discover he wanted to live, and there was a chance he might even be transformed by his near death experience. I once was in a serious accident, turning over 4 times in a car without a seat belt, and when I woke up from being unconscious, I felt for a few minutes, totally convinced that I had been reborn and my life was starting all over again. The sense memory of this “newborness” remained strongly in me, so I tried to incorporate that experience into Warren’s.



Q: Finally, what message are you trying to get across with your book?


I want to create awareness that domestic violence is much too commonplace an experience, that the examples we see on the TV news, of sports figures or celebrities, are only those elevated into the spotlight, but that all around us behind neighbor’s doors, there are scenes of domestic violence. Those who grow up with abuse, unless they find a way to address this and begin some healing process, are doomed to repeat, either as perpetrator or as victim. But there are ways to heal. For instance, Cookie quietly begins to discover who she is once she is away from her abuser, in spite of the caution she has to exert to stay safe in her new life.


Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?


I want to thank you for giving exposure to books like mine.

Getaway is not that easy to place in a box or a genre. There are ways I could have made it more commercial, but I am pleased that I stayed with making it the book I wanted to read.


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