Montclair Magazine May 2022 - Page 16

author

The Writer ’ s Writer Alice ElliottDark talks about her new book and the creative process WRITTENBYJULIAMARTIN

For fans of Montclair author Alice Elliott Dark , the two-decadelong wait for her next book is nearly over . Fellowship Point , to be published July 5by Simon & Schuster , is about an octogenarian writer named Agnes and her lifelong friend Polly , who jointly own avaluable stretch of Maine coast and are grappling with questions about their legacies .

Publisher ’ s Weekly , which gave the book astarred review , says it “ delves deeply into the relationships between Agnes and her work , humans and the land , mothers and children , and , most indelibly , the sustenanceand joy provided by along-held female friendship . It ’ s aremarkable achievement .”
It is Dark ’ s first novel since 2002 ’ s Think of England nd , which followed two short story collections , Naked tothe Waist and In the Gloaming . The latter s title story , about ayoung man named Laird who is dying of AIDS , was published in The New Yorker r in 1993 , and was made into an HBO movie starring Christopher Reeve and Glenn Close that garnered five Emmy nominations . John Updike selected it for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories of the Century , and praised its craftsmanship to the author .
Her next book , loosely titled Ann After Laird , will be asequel to In the Gloaming .
Despite her hiatus from book publishing , Dark has never stopped writing .“ Iwrite every day ,” she says .
I don t know what I m doing alot of the time , but I m always happy to be in astory and playing around inside of it .”
She attributes that delight to her formative writing experiences .“ I started writing early and wrote all through school . It was my escape and it still is ,” she says . “ It was afun place to go when Iwas little , and I ’ ve maintained that feeling . Ican write and write and be very satisfied without it going out in the world .”
Finding time to do this while juggling her job as an associate
JULY5
DARK ’ S NEW NOVEL — HER FIRST IN TWO DECADES — IS DUE OUT THIS
SUMMER .
professor in Rutgers-Newark ’ s MFA program and English Department is one of the challenges she ’ sfaced in finishing her novel and getting it ready for publication .
At 592 pages , Fellowship Point is an ambitious work . Dark found inspiration inthe big , sprawling , intricately plotted novels” of the 19th century , such as George Eliot s Middlemarch and Trollope soeuvre . “ I wanted to learn how todo plots and sub-plots turns and reveals ,” she
says . It was abig chal- lenge and seemed very fun . It drew me in .”
There were many issues she wanted to address , too o.
Chief among these was her mission toput old women , whom people
write off in our culture , front and center —“ old women who are
and
still active and still very much in their lives and growing and changing ,” she says .
Another focus was the idea of preserving land for future generations . “ I love property plots ,” she says . She was inspired by the many women , such as Roxanne Quimby of Burt ’ s Bees , trying to keep land undeveloped via land trusts , a difficult , daunting process .
For those with means , what to do with their land “ is areal moral
COURTESY OF SIMON & SCHUSTER
14 MAY 2022 MONTCLAIR MAGAZINE