“Margaret Brinton paints that old Maine life in a way that tells me she has known it . . . in the deep way that shows the fabric of the days and nights. The structure is neat and tightly woven. Impressive. Nothing extra or wasted . . . I believe all of the characters . . . Dialogue is beautiful . . . The voice is consistent and real throughout.”—From the afterword by Elizabeth Cooke, English & Creative Writing Prof. Emeritus, University of Maine, Farmington.
Margaret worked for years as a feature/news writer for the Lewiston Sun Journal, Franklin Journal, and Daily Bulldog, and has taught creative writing to adult education and English composition classes at Central Maine Community College.
Blown Apart is Margaret’s first novel. Recently I asked her more about her book.
Why did you choose this time period, and this event to fictionalize?
I think the story picked me to tell it; I happened on it so to speak in one of my news beats as a reporter. I wasn’t looking for a particular time period of which to write a novel. I am fascinated by history, how geography, rural conditions determine much of what takes place in retelling a story which has actually happened but you as the writer want to make sure the setting and events encompass the people, as a big heart, wrapping everyone up in a comprehensible bundle. Pain, suffering, love and loss are part of this tale.
I cannot get enough of WWII stories, meeting people involved in this time era. I think those of us drawn to WW II—well, we want to understand it with each conversation we can find to reframe it in our minds.
How personal are the characters to you?
When I write usually several different characters I know in my daily life combine into one. It feels like it’s alchemy or something stirring in creating new people. I never met the people in this novel, yet I met those who resemble them.
The main character, Dawn was close to me as I wrote this story. I had two aunts who were artists and after art school in Philadelphia they went to live and study for a while in Paris in the 1930’s. This was such a break away for them, having grown up on their grandfather’s farm—that they could be what they dreamed, pursue it and then be successful their entire careers in feeling fulfilled as painters.
I wanted Dawn to express herself, to speak for all women. I felt she was as a sister I never had in a life of entirely different circumstances.
The other leading character, Fred, is also several people I know put into one. In close families cousins can be like brother and sister, which is how I wished to portray Dawn and Fred. This I take from my growing up with close brothers and cousins.
You paint with your words, which is beautiful. Is that something you’ve always done?
I suppose so. I have written poetry for many years until coming to Maine in 1989 when I switched to journalism then creative non-fiction and fiction writing. Maybe I will return to the simplicity of poetry making—its complicity is its sincerity, Buddhist-like expression of many thought wanderings into utter beauty of fewer words than novels. Right now, I like the larger way of expressing oneself, spewing out and describing this.
Any plans for other novels?
I have, yes, more novels. Some are written, waiting. Another two are being written as I write.
Blown Apart is available online and at your local bookstore internationally or directly from the publisher Polar Bear & Company, polarberanadco.org. 207.643.2795.