LISTEN to today's show featuring Melanie Brooks!
ABOUT MELANIE BROOKS
I am a writer, teacher, and mother living in Nashua, New Hampshire, with my husband, two children, and yellow Lab. I grew up in the Canadian Maritimes, and the deep ties to water and rugged spaces that live in me are rooted in that background.
I graduated with a degree in English from Gordon College and then earned a Bachelor of Education from Dalhousie University. I later earned a Master of Science for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire. I began my career teaching high school social studies and then went on to teach middle school English. After my children were born, I began teaching college writing. I currently teach professional writing at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and Merrimack College in Andover, Massachusetts, and creative writing at Nashua Community College in Nashua, New Hampshire. I completed my MFA in creative nonfiction through the Stonecoast Creative Writing Program at the University of Southern Maine.
I love words. And I love to play with words on the page. My head is a busy place. An endless film reel plays in there, its frames alive with images and moments, actual and imagined, that I’ve tucked into the folds of my memory. I watch them over and over again, shaping and reshaping, ordering and reordering, trying to make sense of them, searching for the story they want to tell and the language with which to tell it.
Unpacking experiences of life and loss is at the core of my writing. When I was thirteen, my father was infected with HIV after receiving tainted blood during open-heart surgery. He died of an AIDS-related illness ten years later. The complicated nature of his disease and the grief of his death have had a lasting impact on me. My writing is the vehicle through which I'm learning to understand that impact. The stories filling the pages are helping me to better understand myself.
I first read about Melanie Brooks in Poets & Writers Magazine. Her book, Writing Hard Stories, grabbed my attention and I just had to invite her on my show!
Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma
"An inspiring guide to ennobling personal stories that travel to the dark sides of life."
“Writers of all genres will glean golden nuggets of advice about writing and living from this book, while all readers, because they, too, have unique personal stories, will be comforted and inspired by the everyday and creative struggles of some of their favorite authors.”
"[I]t unearths gems of insight, especially about the natures of truth, memory, subjectivity, and fact, and about what memoirs can mean to readers. And it leaves no doubt about the strength required to confront old ghosts."
- Publishers Weekly
PUBLISHED WITH BEACON PRESS (February 2017)
In Melanie's own words
Two years ago, I began writing a painful family story that has now become a memoir, A Complicated Grief. Writing into the memories of this part of my life left me with some difficult questions: What does it take to write an honest memoir? And what happens to us when we embark on that journey? Would I survive the process? I decided to approach the writers whose memoirs moved me and ask these questions. Their replies – honest and soul-searing – comprise Writing Hard Stories. This book profiles my conversations with some of our country’s most prolific writers including: Alysia Abbott, Richard Blanco, Kate Bornstein, Edwidge Danticat, Mark Doty, Andre Dubus III, Jessica Handler, Richard Hoffman, Marianne Leone, Michael Patrick McDonald, Kyoko Mori, Suzanne Strempek Shea, Sue William Silverman, Kim Stafford, Abigail Thomas, Jerald Walker, Joan Wickersham, and Monica Wood. These writers invited me into their homes, into their lives, to share the intimacies of finding the courage to put words to their stories. Their candid descriptions of their own treks through the darkest of memories and the details of the breakthrough moments that opened up their stories gave me the mooring I needed to keep writing my own.