What are your ties to Maine?
When I was seventeen years old, I came to Maine to attend the University of Maine at Farmington to study Creative Writing, and it was there that I fell so madly in love with Maine, and that summer the Maine coastline, that nothing has been able to extract me from it, for very long, ever since.
What is your favorite thing about writing in Maine?
I have always found the Maine coast to offer a setting that is as powerful and severe and moody as its waters and weather patterns, and setting my second book on its coastline, I have been able to use all of those aspects of the Maine landscape to create a sense of ominous foreshadowing and dystopian island life, in the dead of winter, for my forthcoming literary suspense novel.
Tell us about the book you will be signing at Books In Boothbay this year.
The book I will be signing, What Burns Away, can be thought of as a both a portrait of a fraying marriage and a search for balance and normalcy. I have always loved coming of age novels, and for me, middle age is the second coming of age, with its quest for a more balanced life, in that moment in when a character realizes her youth is more behind her than it is in front of her. So when my protagonist Claire walks through a virtual portal that will ultimately show her just how far in the past her past actually is, she also revisits a fascination with fire. Physically and metaphorically, fire is central to the narrative of What Burns Away, a novel that invites readers to consider “what could have been” in their own lives, as Claire, reconnects with her long-ago first love, Dean, who offers this overwhelmed and lonely middle-aged mother an intoxicating, reckless escape, in this story of loyalty, family and the consequences of the past’s inevitable collision with our future.
What do you hope readers will discover in your book?
What I hope readers will discover in reading is that there something about remaking yourself as a mother, in terms of desire and sexuality that is really fascinating. What was once sexy, what once felt like desire, is driven by different external factors. It’s both freeing and horrifying, and in Claire’s case, destructive. But sometimes you must burn down the barn to see the moon. And in Claire’s case this burning is not about female versus male consequences, as much as it is about a middle age woman’s changing concept of beauty, finding what is left underneath her youthful pretty, learning to love the lines notching time in her face, understanding the value and wisdom brought by living a full, and perhaps more dangerous life. I loved writing a character in this space, acknowledging these things about her self and allowing her to behave in reaction to the process of reinvention and rekindled desires, which for Claire is both brutal and transformative and why I felt compelled to capture her quest, inside the novel.
What do you feel about the future of our local libraries?
I have written every word of What Burns Away in a public library, and all 320 pages of my forthcoming second novel, so I am a huge supporter of public libraries and will do all I can to keep them thriving. I believe our libraries are resources not only for writers and readers, but that they are the center of the community, offering knowledge and opportunity to those who walk through their doors.
Come meet Melissa Falcon Field and dozens of additional writers and artists at Books in Boothbay on July 11!