Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlights, the twenty-eighth, is of multi-genre author Persis Granger.
Persis Granger never dreamed that farming would play a role in her life after leaving her family’s New York dairy farm to pursue an English degree at the College of Wooster and the University of Massachusetts. She married and had two daughters. It was in 1970 that she and her husband, Richard, fell in love with the Adirondack Mountains of New York and bought the first of two old farms they would own there. In 1976 they moved to the second, a 160-acre farm with overgrown fields and woodland. The rundown 1800s house and barns required major restoration while the couple raised chickens, cows and pigs, and grew huge gardens. They canned, cured, dried, froze and root-cellared food to last through the long mountain winters.
As their children approached college age, the couple began hand-building log cabins from pine trees harvested on their farm. One cabin became their home when they moved from the farmhouse, and several were sold as vacation cottages. Persis earned a master’s degree in education during that time, and her study of young adult literature reignited her long-dormant interest in fiction writing, eventually resulting in completion of two YA works of historical fiction and a teacher’s guide, as well as an adult nonfiction anthology about living with Alzheimer’s disease. Another novel is in progress, vying with her freelance work for time. Inspired by and enamored of the writing community, Persis also created “Fiction Among Friends”, a mini-business which hosts readings, workshops, signings and retreats for writers.
And now from the author herself:
In the 1970s my husband and I, parents of two young daughters, unwittingly stumbled into subsistence farming. Living on a 19th century farm in the Adirondack Mountains of northeastern NY, we learned how to annihilate cabbage moths with tennis racquets, pluck poultry, scald hogs, skin cows and eviscerate anything living intended for the table. We heated with wood, thawed frozen pipes on days when the thermometers registered 30 degrees (F) below zero and sent our children to bed with hot water bottles that, if kicked onto the floor, froze solid. I found myself wondering what farm life was like before conveniences like chainsaws and electricity, and I set out to learn. I knew I had to write about those days and tell about the important role children played in early farm families and the responsibility they shared for the success and well-being of the family. I wanted today’s youth to read about our forefathers’ strong work ethic and about the strength of a united community and close-knit families.
Most of all, I wanted readers to enjoy an engaging story. I created Adirondack Gold, the story of Hollis Ingraham, forced by circumstances to go live on the 1890s farm of grandparents he barely knew. He stumbles across information about his dead father that helps him bond with his embittered grandfather and mend a family rift. In 2003, with a grant from the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council, I completed the work, with accompanying teachers’ guide. During the same period, I coordinated the writing of an anthology of eleven autobiographical stories of women dealing with a parent’s Alzheimer’s disease, Shared Stories from Daughters of Alzheimer’s: Writing a Path to Peace (paperback and ebook: iUniverse in 2002; iUniverse Star 2004).
But Hollis Ingraham still occupied my mind. I knew the rosy glow surrounding the first novel’s ending was burning low. It was time to revisit this young man’s life as he teetered on the threshold of manhood. Through a complex maze of subplots, Hollis is forced to make difficult decisions, set against the backdrop of a summer in which personal tragedy overwhelms his family while the Spanish-American War, the budding environmental movement and difficult economic times are front page stories. Adirondack Gold II: A Summer of Strangers was born in 2008.
I’m now working on a contemporary mystery in which bodies begin appearing during a writers’ retreat held at a remote Adirondack Great Camp. When I’m not conjuring up bodies, or writing about the Adirondacks for freelance magazine assignments, I actually do organize and host annual writers’ retreats (http://www.persisgranger.com)—one in the Adirondacks, and one on a Florida beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Aspiring writers (all live ones) hunker down together for several days to polish works in progress and hone skills through workshops and discussions led by talented writers. The network established through the retreats enabled me to organize monthly readings in a local coffee shop, helping rural writers connect and share their work with each other and the public.
You can find more about Persis and her work by clicking on the above links and visiting her website. Thank you Persis!
The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with Glen Gamble – the one hundred and seventy-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found at here. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. My eBooks are now available on Smashwords (Amazon to follow).