This profile originally appeared in the Fall 2012 issue of Bowdoin magazine.
Bowdoin Major: English
Hometown: Gloucester, Mass.
Title: Playwright, author of the novel Alice Bliss.
Greatest influence: Musicians, who have taught me the importance of silence and the power of structure. The writers Virginia Woolf, Tim Winton, Marilynn Robinson, Thornton Wilder, and Tony Kushner.
Coming from theatre, what was the biggest challenge you faced in writing a novel? Not knowing how. That was also the greatest gift. On the other hand, no one knows how. Each book, each play, is its own Everest. You learn how to write this play or this book, and then become a beginner all over again with the next one.
Do you foresee more projects like this in your future? I’m in the middle of my second novel, A Catalogue of Birds. Set in 1966 and 1970, it deals with the aftermath of Viet Nam, and, like Alice Bliss, begins and ends with water. I’m also working on a new musical and have just created a one-woman version of my musical Joan of Arc, which previously had 17 characters. We had a great little run in St. Paul, Minn., with Nautilus Music Theatre and the divine Jennifer Baldwin Peden, one of the most amazing singers I’ve ever worked with.
Favorite Bowdoin memory: Late nights reading in the library, walking across campus in the snow, all the hours I spent singing in the music building.
Goals: To keep telling stories, in whatever medium I can; to keep speaking out against war; to be a great teacher; to continue to collaborate with wonderful composers and singers.
Something you can’t live without: Music. Silence. The ocean. Hope.