Thursday, 28 June 2012

Brooke Hauser's place

Brooke Hauser is originally from Miami, Florida and now divides her time between western Massachusetts and New York City. The New Kids: Big Dreams Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens is her first book. About the book, she says, "In 2008, I wrote an article for The New York Times about prom at a high school that teaches English to recent immigrants from around the world. The students captured my heart, and the following year I decided to spend a year with the new kids at the International High School at Prospect Heights." Recently, People magazine selected The New Kids as one of its "Great Reads." You can find out more about Brooke here. Below, she talks about where she gets work done.

I wrote my book, The New Kids, in a cubicle at the Brooklyn Writers Space. At the time, it was the perfect spot for me, not just because the building that housed us was located off a stretch of Park Slope that is paved with places to grab a great sandwich or get a pedicure (I like a rewards system), but also because the location happened to be a short walk to the International High School that is the subject of my book. Whenever I needed to refresh a memory—the sound of the halls between classes, the smell of the cafeteria—I walked a few blocks, and suddenly I was back in that world. I also loved being in the company of other writers and people in general. Tempting as it is to work from home in pajamas, it’s important to put on real pants every day.

Recently, I moved to western Massachusetts. For a while, I wrote at a college library in my neighborhood. That was before I had a baby. At the moment, I am sitting with my son on the couch in my apartment, typing with one hand. It’s not Yaddo, but it will do just fine.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Melanie Murray's place

Melanie Murray is the author of For Your Tomorrow: The Way of an Unlikely Soldier, which follows her family as they try to make sense of their profound loss after her nephew, Jeff, is killed on a road in Afghanistan. Quill and Quire says of her book, "Murray's powerful work contains the emotional resonance currently lacking in much of the writing about our involvement in the Afghan conflict..." Melanie lives in Kelowna and teaches at Okanagan College. You can read more about Melanie here. Below, she describes her productive place to write.

Alma-Cliff Cottage in Malagash, Nova Scotia

My writer’s haven for six weeks every summer is a small cottage on the Northumberland Strait. I write at a table in the screened-in front porch overlooking the water. It’s quiet, but for the ever-changing symphony of wind rustling through saltwater maples, waves rushing on the rocky shore, and seagulls screeching over the blue-grey sea. My days are planned around the time of the low tide when I can walk the wide sandbar that stretches for a kilometre to McInnis’s Point. These solitary strolls in the sun, wind and rain are my meditation and inspiration.  As if borne in on the waves themselves, ideas surface, images appear, sentences take shape. And I can’t wait to get back and write them down. 

Friday, 8 June 2012

Brenda Schmidt's place

Brenda Schmidt is a writer, painter and birdwatcher living in northern Saskatchewan. She has two new books out, Grid, a poetry collection, published by Hagios Press and Flight Calls: An Apprentice on the Art of Listening, published by Kalamalka Press. For me, reading Brenda's work is like taking a walk with a patient listener who knows when to speak and when to stay silent.  She has a wit as sharp and dry as the prairie landscape. Of her new book, a critic says, "You can just feel the stones rattling off your undercarriage on this Grid." (Star Phoenix) You can find out more about Brenda Schmidt and see some of her art here. Below, she tells us about one of the places she likes to write:

The Barn at Northhill

For years I attended retreats at St. Peter’s Abbey and met many writers and artists from across Canada. Those were productive times. Since 2008, however, I’ve been drawn to more private places. Last summer Tracy Hamon invited me along on a writing retreat at The Barn at Northhill Cottage, an acreage property above the Frenchman River, on the edge of Eastend, Saskatchewan. It was clean and open, the vaulted ceiling almost challenging me to keep reaching, and reach I did. It was by far my most productive retreat. We had our own rooms, each with a writing desk, large windows, and a spectacular view of the hills. Each morning before I began writing, I’d sit on the deck with my coffee and read. Wrens and towhees sang nearby. Each evening we’d hike and return just as the nighthawks were feeding. I like to think all the calls and song helped me along.