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Interview with Jacqueline Lynch, author of “Beside the Still Waters”


About Jacqueline Lynch

JTLynch.headshot (2)Jacqueline T. Lynch’s novels are available as ebooks from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Several of her plays have been published and produced around the U.S., Canada, and one of which was translated into Dutch and performed several times in the Netherlands. Her ONE GOOD TURN premiered as a winner of the 2011 Northern Kentucky University Y.E.S. Festival. Her one-act play IN MEMORY OF TRIXIE GAZELLE was chosen as a winner in the 2010 Nor’Eastern Playwright’s Showcase of the Vermont Actors’ Repertory Theatre in Rutland, Vermont.

She has published articles and short fiction in regional and national publications, including the anthology “60 Seconds to Shine: 161 Monologues from Literature” (Smith & Kraus, 2007), North & South, Civil War Magazine, History Magazine, and writes Another Old Movie Blog and New England Travels blog.

For more information, please visit her website at www.JacquelineTLynch.com

The Interview

Could you please tell us a little bit about your book?

“Beside the Still Waters” is an historical/family saga based on a true event. In the 1920s and ‘30s, four towns in an isolated valley in Central Massachusetts were taken over by the state and flooded to make what today is called the Quabbin Reservoir. This story is about the people who lived in the towns, one family in particular. They had to leave their homes, their heritage, and face an uncertain future without any semblance of their past.

Did something specific happen to prompt you to write this book?

In the mid-1980s I wrote and was assistant editor for a regional history magazine in Massachusetts. We did a three-issue series on the Quabbin Reservoir and the towns that had been there previously. We interviewed people who had lived in these towns. They shared with us their experience, and their continued sense of loss. I knew I wanted to write a book and tell their story as a novel.

Who or what is the inspiration behind this book?

The idea that loss of community can be so devastating, that our family heritage could be entwined with our community. In the peculiar case of this story, these towns are not swept away in a natural disaster or demolished by war. Such events are horrific. But awful as those circumstances may be, they are at least understandable. What made the loss of their towns so bitter to the people in this story is that their communities were voted out of existence by strangers in the Statehouse many miles away. The inhabitants of the towns had no say in the matter. Their towns were not destroyed; they were systematically dismantled all around them, while they still lived there. It must have been like watching a slow death.

Do you have any rituals you follow when finishing a piece of work?

I feel very pleased with myself for about five minutes, and feel as if I owned the world. Then I go back to work.

Who has influenced you throughout your career as a writer?

No one person or other writer has influenced me, but teachers, family, friends, words from other writers, and incidents I have observed among strangers all rest on my shoulders and seem to whisper in my ear from time to time when I need it.

What are you currently working on?

I tend to work on several projects simultaneously. I’m preparing to publish volume of my essays on classic films originally posted on my blog Another Old Movie Blog. I’m also a playwright and have a full-length comedy in the hopper, as well as currently trying to market a full-length drama on Louisa May Alcott’s experience as a Civil War nurse. I’m working on a sequel to my cozy mystery novel, “Cadmium Yellow, Blood Red”, and another historical novel set in a northern factory town during the Civil War. I also have a couple of non-fiction projects (history) that have been on the back burner. One of these is a book on the life and career of 19th century eminent bronze founder and sculptor Melzar Mosman, on whom I recently gave a talk and slide presentation to an historical society. Lots to do.

Do you have any advice for writers or readers?

I think it’s important to explore other genres. As writers, we need to stretch our muscles and test new avenues for our work. As readers, we can open up entirely new worlds to our imaginations if we explore a little and not just stick to favorite comfort zones.

What is your favorite pastime?

Travel. A trip to New Zealand some years ago was the inspiration for my novel, “The Current Rate of Exchange.” You never know where, or when, ideas are going to hit you. You could be in an airport terminal, eating Hokey Pokey ice cream while waiting for them to call your flight number.

About Beside the Still Waters

Beside the Still WatersFour towns, gone. Dismantled slowly while their inhabitants grieve for a history and heritage that has been voted away from them. The present threatens; the future belongs to the fearless.

“Beside the Still Waters” is a family saga based on an actual event which displaced four entire towns in central Massachusetts for the construction of a reservoir. Today, the Quabbin Reservoir provides water for millions of citizens, primarily in the greater Boston area.

Families are divided between those who protest the construction project, those who give up and leave, and those who help to build it. The central character is Jenny, a girl who comes of age facing the extinction of her community, who becomes the guardian of her family’s heritage, and ultimately, the one to decide what happens to them.

A rift between two brothers, Eli and John Vaughn, at the turn of the 20th Century continues through to the next generation as John tries to use Jenny, Eli’s daughter, in a plot to regain the family farm from Alonzo, who now runs it, who is Jenny’s love. John is broke and eager to sell the farm to the state, which is buying up area property for the coming reservoir. Both Alonzo and Eli refuse to sell their properties, and protest removal by eminent domain. Torn between loyalty to her family and heritage, and the allure of a future beyond the valley, Jenny refuses to remain powerless like the men she loves, but looks for a way to take control. A disastrous decision may prove fatal in a race against time.

Beside the Still Waters is her third book.


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