Interview with Maureen A. Griswold

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Elmira, NY and spent my first 10 years there. Elmira was very much a part of Mark Twain's life as he married Olivia Langdon of Elmira, and lived at various times in Elmira. An elegant, elderly neighbor of ours, Mrs. Frances Petrie, had been a playmate with Mark Twain's daughters, and Twain's famous octagonal study was something I saw frequently to and from speech therapy at Elmira College. One of the most precious gifts I've ever received was a volume of Mark Twain's short stories and Twain's humor and satire inspires me whenever I'm working on a humorous/satirical piece.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Probably not the first story I ever read, but I especially remember a grade school version of The Odyssey with illustrations and it was wonderful, truly stirred the imagination. I re-read it many times when I was young and it was always magical.
When did you first start writing?
I was one of those preschoolers who pretended to write in cursive before getting my very first lessons in kindergarten! By the time I was in second or third grade, I would secretly write bits and pieces about a beautiful girl who figure skated -- didn't have a plot or any other characters, but it made me aware I liked writing.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The initial rush and intrigue when a concept, a story possibility, happens spontaneously followed by the detective-type process regarding why/how it's occurred and the possibilities of what I can do with it. Of course, what follows is work, even spells of drudgery, in going through the process of writing, re-writing, what the story is for me to share with the reader. Getting those creative "flashes" -- even if it means work ahead -- is always something I find mysterious, intriguing, compelling, and enjoyable.
Who are your favorite authors?
Ray Bradbury, Rod Serlling, Daphne Du Maurier, Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Very busy with caregiving for my very elderly Mom -- she's nearing 100! Also, love movies -- especially Hitchcock and Hollywood classics, so I watch at least a few movies every week. Due to my journalism background, I'm a news and political junkie, so I'm frequently checking news sites. Also enjoy reading as time permits -- classics and books/authors pertaining to spirituality and metaphysics are of interest to me.
What is your writing process?
I'm a split personality regarding nonfiction versus fiction. Overall, nonfiction, including journalism, is a logical, linear, process which can even provide models, i.e., outlines, formats, and the "inverted pyramid" used in journalism. I'm an epitome of efficiency and discipline when it comes to nonfiction/journalistic writing. I can plant myself in a chair and work nonstop, oblivious to the rest of the world, until the job is done. As for fiction writing, it's entirely different, non-linear, each short story a grey forest (pun intended) with unanticipated challenges, surprises, and its own schedule -- thus I'm more of a binge writer when working fiction. It's actually in the re-writing and editing phases where I really feel engaged in fiction writing as it's there I find I'm on firmer footing and can sense what the story is really about.
What are you working on next?
Another collection of short stories and, eventually, a trilogy regarding the modern era of nursing (from Florence Nightingale era to present).
Published 2016-01-26.
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