WELCOME TO MY WRITING WEBSITE
I HOPE TO HAVE A BLOG INCLUDED SOON BUT YOU CAN REACH ME AT FOR NOW.
I RECENTLY SAT DOWN FOR A RECORDED CONVERSATION WITH A FRIEND AND FORMER N.Y. MAGAZINE EDITOR RUTH LEBENSON. WHAT FOLLOWS IS PART OF THE INTERVIEW.
RL: I have read some excerpts of your writing and I’m curious as to how you became interested in writing. Did it come out of teaching?
BPM: Yes. I began teaching as a third career, having been a fine artist and a commercial artist for a combined thirty years. Working in a low income area in the San Fernando valley I wanted to use fiction to help the students, many of them Latinos, to begin writing about their lives. I found the available stories featuring young Latino boys to be disappointing, so I started trying to write stories that would entertain and inform students about the true ‘indian’ past of California. I wrote about the mission system and the natives working inside it, then changed the story and point of view and then the gender of the main character and then the verb tense and point of view and changed the historical time frame. I finally finished a story about a Chumash native who was named Brave Fox. I tried to put everything I knew in the story; to tell the truth about the ways of the world in 1640. I showed my story to friends and read parts aloud to whoever would listen.
RL: And how did that go?
BPM: I was talking one day to an acquaintance at the health club and when I told him what I had written he begged me to send it to him. It was only about 70,000 words and I did and he purchased it for a movie, which is still in development. That was after all the struggle, which taught me that I had to begin at the beginning; to be reborn as a writer, to write until the miracle of words no longer thrilled me, and then write only that which moved toward the truth of the moment and then toward the harder truths, harder understandings. And while keeping this in mind also manage, or create, a piece of word music, design the experience as if it were a building, make word pictures, be a mother and a father to the characters, conceive it all as an orchestration and prod it into existence through the translated equation of marks on paper.
RL: Sounds complicated. Do you include yourself; some of your own theories?
BPM: So, like, it’s not so easy, presenting the world in its complexities and apparent trends, especially if you want to add to or change a young reader’s journey. That’s my challenge, what drives me to find new issues, new settings, new characters that create a world that is truly new, or historically accurate, or filled with intriguing possibilities. Or all of the above.
RL: So you haven’t been published yet, except for some of your short stories on line. What keeps you writing?
BPM: I belong to the La Canada SCBWI Emerging Authors group; I guess they serve as my current cheerleaders. And psychiatrists. (laughter) seriously? (more laughter)
I think writing allows me to imagine another world, or a world we hope for, or a world gone bad as a result of certain choices. In the Deception Chronicles, for instance, I can imagine the earth’s people learning to cooperate, as deduced by the great Catholic anthropologist Teilhard de Chardin from the evidence of our shared history, a diverse sphere of interests connected, correlated by electronic communication as prophesied by Marshall McCluhan, and a family of nations slowly maturing, as analysed by Norman O Brown. Or, more to the point, since without troubles, as one of my writing teachers never tired of saying, there is no story, put those sensibilities together in a future world, all slightly tilted by ruthless financial gain and systemic corruption, and see if the characters can fight their way out, effect change. That’s kind of the fun of it, from a creative standpoint; imagining a trap and then figuring a way out.
RL: Hmm. Okay, interesting. But what’s the connection, the correlation between that world you just described, and your writing? Or any fiction?
BPM: We live in a world currently balanced in its pleasant and terrible aspects and teetering this way and that, the future of all us uncertain. Instant internet translation of one language into another and hints of global cooperation share the stage with greedy corporations acting outside national boundaries, hurtling us toward a global warming ‘point of no return’. A piece of fiction can get rid of all the confusing details of the daily news, show the big picture. And at the same time(fiction can) show individuals, not just as made up players but, really, as souls trying to understand what’s happening to them, like David Cunard, the main character in Rare Earth, a contemporary YA story set in Malibu.
I think reading and writing stories about people trying to make the right decisions, literature, organized and heightened experience, is the place where the consequences of our decisions may be contemplated, even felt, and used to steer away from Armageddon, or whatever, before it arrives. Speaking truth to power is the ultimate test for civilization, for democracy, for any political system that serves all its participants. Fiction can create all of these realities, get them out into other peoples’ minds, into conversations, hopefully more. If we can’t predict the future implied by the present, and correct our course, we are doomed. As citizens, in a way, sometimes I think our imagination is our only salvation.