Welcome Jessie. I'm glad you could join me this evening.
1. You told me recently that you've been reworking some of your earlier works from the 1950's, what made you decide to revisit those books?
I found several of my older novels in a file, just one typewritten copy of each – written on my mother’s old Remington portable. I still have it, a 1930s model. I decided I’d like digital copies, to save them for my granddaughter, and that required typing into the computer, and that, of course, required editing. Authors can’t resist editing.
My first published novel, ORCHARD HILL, was written in 1969. I’ve always liked the story, but because of the setting and circumstances, it cannot be updated. I wrote a prologue and an epilogue and told it as a flashback. No problems there and I think it worked well.
A HEART MENDED, a story with three characters I always liked, is set at a resident youth camp. Updating it was a lot of fun. Camps haven’t changed a lot, although I never attended one. I’ve been working on my very first novel, “No coming Back” which I wrote about 1955. It is a challenge.
- Do you find yourself wanting to change your storyline from the original concept or is it remaining the same?
I changed very little in any of those books. The storyline worked in the original. I did a little tweaking, of course and my writing style has changed somewhat. One of my favorite stories is Vietnam-era, written in 1973 at the end of the war, told from the point of view of a conscientious objector. That can’t be updated either, and redoing it is presenting some problems. Did we really talk like that? It’s a temptation to change some things. I have not submitted that one anywhere yet.
- Are any of the books you are reworking previously published?
No. I currently have one entered in a contest, but did not win. I submitted them a few times but I am very easily discouraged and at the time had no one to turn to for information or encouragement. I changed to writing short stories and a number of them have been published in several local outlets. My newly released book, 15 TALES OF LOVE, is a collection of those stories from the past ten years or so.
- How has your writing process changed between then and now?
Other than changing from a typewriter to a computer, not much. The computer is a heck of a lot easier. I write from 6 a.m. to whenever I feel like stopping. I begin the day with whatever I have to write for the newspaper and then usually spend an hour or so on whatever I’m working on. I now have a writers’ group for support and they have been a tremendous help with both the writing itself and my confidence. My newspapering is part time, so I rarely have more than one article to write per day.
Way back when, while I was raising a family, I wrote whenever I could find a few minutes, and all of the first drafts were in longhand. I can’t imagine doing that now.
- You rewrote A HEART MENDED that was originally written in 1973. That book is now available on Amazon. What changes stand out the most between the 1973 version and today?
The technology. The plotline requires a camper to take some pictures. In 1973 he used a Polaroid Instamatic. (I still have mine, somewhere). Since the camp, like most of them, bans electronics, including cell phones, they issue a disposable camera and have the pictures printed toward the end of the session. Counselors, of course, have cells and the camp nurse, the heroine, wears colored scrubs instead of a uniform. Her cabin is quite efficient, coffee maker and all. Dealing with an accident to a camper is handled much differently now than it would have been in the ‘70s.
- When you started to read some of those earlier works, did you cringe inside or did it bring a smile to your face?
Both. There is still a lot there to like and I don’t think I was a bad writer back then. I will probably never do anything with my very first novel, a western written in the mid-1950s, although my granddaughter said she likes it. Writing styles have changed a lot in 40 years, but I haven’t changed mine very much. My writers’ group thinks I should maybe change a little more. The obvious changes include the use, or not, of dialog tags, clearly separating points-of-view , showing more instead of telling, all things emphasized more now than then. I have always liked scene-setting, but they tell me that’s a no-no, start in the middle of the action.
- What inspires you when you write?
I don’t know. Different things, I guess. ORCHARD HILL was written while I was packing apples for a commercial orchard. The reason it can’t be updated is because that work has changed so dramatically, from hand packing to mostly mechanized. At the time, the pickers were from Nova Scotia and one of them was a very handsome man. (I think actually, over the course of two seasons I spoke with him twice). When later pickers came from Jamaica, I sort of fantasized about that dashing Frenchman.
A HEART MENDED draws on a lot of local gossip. I told someone once that I found my (so far unpublished) fantasy novel in a crossword puzzle. Various words began conjuring images. I write as much fantasy as I do love stories and sometimes combine them.
- Who is your favorite author/authors?
I have a lot of them since I read almost anything that comes along. I am a big fan of “The Lord of The Rings” and it probably inspired my own fantasy. I love a good mystery and Tony Hillerman is a favorite. Most of the so-called “cozy murders” don’t hold my interest but I like Mary Daheim’s Alpine Advocate series, probably because she is a newspaper person and it is set in western Washington where I once lived. And then there is Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael. She was a marvelous writer.
Much of my reading is history, but I want it to be real – somebody’s reinterpretation – but detest “alternative history.” If I’m reading about the Revolutionary War, we have to win.
- If you could be any character in any book, who would it be and why?
I’ve never thought much about that. There are characters I admire, might like to emulate, but I don’t think I ever wanted to be somebody else. In my writing, I try to emphasize the character’s character, so to speak, whatever that may be, and some of that probably comes from those people I admire, real or imagined. On the other hand, some of those charming southern belles, the Scarlett O’Hara types, might have been fun. All those handsome men hanging around.
- Is there anything else your fans should know about you?
I started writing, I think when I was in the third grade, about when you learn to put words together into real sentences. Although my mother was a writer, she was too introverted to share any of it until her old age when she began writing thoughtful letters to the editor of her local paper, mostly on religious topics. She never encouraged or discouraged, me to write, so I had no reinforcement until I was a senior in high school, back in 1952. A new English teacher that year encouraged me to enter a story in the Scholastic Magazine short story contest and I won second place for Northern New England. I think that was what encouraged me to continue.
I guess I’m what the jokester said, It took me 40 years to become an overnight success. A local writers’ group published an anthology, and paper I worked for had a short-lived literary magazine and I had stories in both of those. Journalism is fulfilling and I have a lot of readers, but fiction is what I love.
READ ON FOR A BLURB FROM JESSIE'S BOOK, A HEART MENDED:
Wilfred has a broken heart. Betrayed years ago by his young wife and severed from his life work by a heart attack, he has retreated to a resident youth camp to hide and impart his love of nature to mostly uncaring campers. Too hurt to ever love again, too much in pain to care, he has retreated from the world to await his inevitable death.
But Shannon knows better. As the camp nurse, she understands his physical pain, and as she has learned to know, and deeply love, him, she has found the parts he keeps hidden. She knows he is a caring, gentle soul, a good man who could be healed, if he would let somebody help him, but he is rejecting her offered love.
Robbie is a sad reluctant camper. Left by his parents while they vacation, bullied by his bigger cabin-mates, he can’t swim, hates baseball but likes butterflies. His love of the outdoors catches Wilfred’s attention, but Robbie is the son of Wilfred’s ex-wife.
Robbie stands between Wilfred and Shannon, pulling them together and driving them apart, until Robbie is trapped in a burning barn with only Wilfred to get him out.
BUY LINK FOR A HEART MENDED:
BIO OF JESSIE SALISBURY:
I was born in Alaska and have lived in New Hampshire since I was 12. I have worked for various local newspapers since 1967 and am again with the one where I started, working part time. I am co-author of an “Images of America” book, “Wilton, Temple, Lyndeborough,” published by our three historical societies, which was great fun. My hobby is local history and I am considered – probably wrongly - as an expert on the town’s past.
I have lived where I do now for 50 years – a New England farmhouse-style remodeled extensively about 1850 – with my son and four cats.