March 15, 2019

The Write Space – Brunonia Barry

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The Write Space is a monthly Q&A series from Creative Collective covering a local writer and a North Shore space(s) s/he associates with writing.  Questions? Contact:

Give us your best writerly bio

BRUNONIA BARRY is the New York Times and international bestselling author of The Lace Reader, The Map of True Places, and The Fifth Petal, chosen #1 of Strand Magazine’s Top 25 Books of 2017. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages and has been an Amazon Best of the Month and a People Magazine Pick. Barry was the first American author to win the International Women’s Fiction Festival’s Baccante Award and was a past recipient of Ragdale Artists’ Colony’s Strand Invitational Fellowship as well as the winner of New England Book Festival’s award for Best Fiction. Her reviews and articles on writing have appeared in The London Times, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post. Brunonia served as chairperson of the Salem Athenaeum’s Writers’ Committee, as Executive Director of the Salem Literary Festival, and as a member of Grub Street’s Development Committee. She lives in Salem with her husband, Gary Ward, and their dog, Angel.

Tell us about a North Shore Write Space.

One of the places I love to write is at the Salem Athenaeum, which hosts a writers’ open studio every Tuesday morning, though, these days, I don’t get there nearly as much as I’d like. More regularly, and since my writing hours occur whenever the muse inspires, you can find me working at my home in Salem’s McIntyre district. The house’s previous owners were artists, and the walls of my office are papered with old National Geographic maps and marked with pins where their family traveled. A number of the countries don’t exist anymore.

While working on a new novel, I seem to collect everything that feels relevant to the story, lace for The Lace Reader, depictions of trees and quartz singing bowls for The Fifth Petal. While I was writing The Map of True Places, the room itself provided inspiration. The space is light-filled with four huge windows and a fireplace that my dog has claimed as her personal haven.

When I’m in North Shore, not writing, I’m …

I really had to think about this question, since there’s little time when I’m not writing, or thinking about writing, or feeling guilty for not writing, or on the road promoting something I’ve already written. It’s an obsessive profession, and after speaking with other writer-friends, I know I’m not alone in my assessment. That said, I grew up here on the North Shore, so I have a life full of friends and family who are always available for a little fun. My favorite activities usually involve the ocean in some way: swimming, sailing, or just exploring the picturesque towns along our rocky coastline.

What are you working on now?

My current work in progress is a story about family dynamics, and, though it is fiction, it’s quite a departure from anything I’ve written before. It has been a joy to write because it’s so different.  

And finally –

My most recent book in release is The Fifth Petal. Set in Salem and Pride’s Crossing, it’s the story of Rose, a once a respected scholar of Salem history, who has been blamed for the brutal murders of three young women, and Callie, the daughter of one of the victims who is trying to find out the truth and clear Rose’s name. It’s a cautionary tale about what we do to people we consider “other.”  

Here’s a snippet:

So many things she’d experienced recently were hidden, things that lay beneath: the reef at Norman’s Woe, submerged and treacherous; the frescoes concealed for centuries under layers of smoky soot; the root hole, now covered with sod. There were caves beneath the palazzi of the Sassi, and there were caves under Pride’s Heart. Indeed, there seemed to be things just below the surface of life itself, revealing themselves only at odd moments or when accidentally or intentionally disturbed.

Find out more at —-

Check out or at local bookstores such as Spirit of ’76 in Marblehead and Wicked Good Books in Salem to name a few.

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