Archive | Writer

Magic

My mother, Marguerite, was very bright, absurdly literate, pathologically insecure, and a poet. As a young mother she gradually became aware that her first and most loved child was a psychopath, and believed that recognition of his defect would destroy her life. She could lose everything she loved most, both her son and her husband. […]

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Interview Questions: St. Johns Memories

These are the interview questions for when I ask people for their St. Johns memories. What year were you born? Were you born in St. Johns? Or when did you arrive here? Have you lived here all your life? Or where else have you lived, and at what ages? Where are your parents from? When […]

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The Interview Strategy

For that perfect day job that I recently quit, I became adept at interviewing people. I learned how to prepare a detailed, thorough list of questions in advance. I learned how to keep the interviewee happy about talking to me, and how to control the conversation so the person doesn’t wander off into long stories […]

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Maybe It Never Happened

In addition to its being set in a place where I personally did not grow up, my new story also includes incidents that never happened to me. This means that I have to go find people who did have these experiences and ask many, many questions. How did it happen? What, exactly did you do? […]

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Research at the Blow Fly Inn

I am doing research for my next book. Like my completed book, _Like Light from Stars_, this story takes place over multiple generations in a place with which I am familiar—in this case, St. Johns, where I have lived since 2005. However, that is not exactly several generations’ worth. I need to find out a […]

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Metaphor and Dementia: Dancing in the Sky

  In the metaphorical conversations I had with the patients on the dementia ward, certain themes came up again and again. Not surprising for people with late-stage terminal illness, a common theme was concern about work being finished. A teacher was anxious about whether the materials were ready for the next day’s classes. A caterer […]

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Writers, Metaphor, and Dementia: David’s House

Years ago, long before the advent of protease-inhibitor cocktails, a close friend of mine was diagnosed with Kaposi’s sarcoma, which in those days was an AIDS-defining illness—a death sentence. I felt helpless and horrified, unable to do anything for my buddy, but wanted to do something useful, so I volunteered at Shanti, a San Francisco […]

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