Suzanne Strempek Shea

March 2015 Update


This Is Paradise

That’s welcome in Chichewa. I’m brushing up on my extremely limited knowledge of the language as I look forwarding to welcoming Mags Riordan back to New England. She’s heading over from Malawi this month for ten days of book events with me. At each, she’ll be telling the story of the Billy Riordan Memorial Clinic in Chembe Village, Cape Maclear, Malawi, the subject of my book “This Is Paradise: An Irish Mother’s Grief, an African Village’s Plight and the Medical Clinic That Brought Fresh Hope to Both.”

A native of Ireland, Mags ten years ago founded the clinic in memory of her son Billy, who drowned in Lake Malawi in 1999. The former high school guidance counselor now lives in the African nation and runs the clinic that has served more than 275,000 people in an area that previously had one doctor for 800,000 people.

Since its release last year, “This Is Paradise” has been featured in publications in the U.S. and Ireland, including the Boston Globe, Yankee magazine and The Irish Times.

Copies of “This Is Paradise” and my other books will be available for sale and signing at all events, which are open to the public free of charge. Crafts from Cape Maclear also will be sold to benefit the clinic.

Our schedule is:

  • March 20, 6 p.m., Monson Free Library, 2 High St., Monson, Mass.
  • March 23, 6 p.m., Centerville (Mass.) Public Library
  • March 24, 7 p.m., Maine Irish Heritage Center, Portland
  • March 25, noon, Wells (Maine) Public Library
  • March 25, 7 p.m., West Springfield (Mass.) Public Library
  • March 26, 7 p.m., Kingston (Mass.) Public Library, with Marianne Leone, author of “Jesse”
  • March 27, dinner event, 6:30 p.m., Ludlow Country Club, Ludlow, Mass. Hosted by the Wilbraham/Hampden Rotary Club but open to the public. The club will hold a business hour, social hour and dinner for members and the public starting at 5 p.m. Dinner is at 6 p.m. Those who wish to hear just the talk, which is free, should arrive at 6:30 p.m. The cost for both the dinner and the talk is $17. For dinner tickets, call Ed McFarland at 413-596-8065 or Walt Markett at 413-596-8065.
  • March 28, 2 p.m.,Sandwich Public Library, 142 Main St., Sandwich, Mass.
Bay Path Ireland

Having Mags here will have me thinking all the more of Bay Path University’s creative writing seminar to be held in her hometown of Dingle in Co. Kerry, Ireland, July 25 to Aug. 1. Though it’s part of the university’s MFA in nonfiction, it’s open to the public, and to writers of any genre. Ann Hood, Ted Deppe and Tommy Shea will be running workshops, and Richard Hoffman will be a guest lecturer. Stay tuned for more info on the week. Take a look at the main info here and do let me know if you have any questions.

Also on the literary calendar at Bay Path: I’ll be leading an intensive workshop for those working on book-length projects, April 22, 29, May 6 and 13. And I’m marking the calendar for the annual Bookies book club/reader event at the university, June 14, 2 to 4 p.m., this year featuring authors Karen Shepard, Ellen Meeropol, Bernadette Duncan, Nina Gaby and Durham Caldwell.

And if you’ll be in Minnesota next month for the AWP Conference, please join me at two panels:

  • April 10, 4:30 to 5:45 p.m.: F280. You've Been Telling Me You Were a Genius Since You Were 17: Five Writers Reel In Their Earliest (and Often Embarrassing) Efforts.
    (Libby Cudmore, Elizabeth Searle, Suzanne Strempek-Shea, Donna Minkowitz, Matthew Martin) Before the novels, the memoirs, the scripts, and the awards, there were the schoolyard love poems, the fan fiction, and the Mead-notebook revenge fantasies involving the bully down the street and a shark. These early musings directly informed the writers we would become, and five brave authors will discuss and share their unedited, unfiltered first steps, culminating with a live performance of Elizabeth Searle's walkie-talkie radio drama, What a Way to Live.
  • April 11, 4:30 to 5:45 p.m.: “Photographic” Memory, Why all Memoirists Tell Imperfect Truths
    Room M100 A, Mezzanine Level
    Presenters: Helen Peppe, Sue William Silverman, Suzanne Strempek Shea, and Ann Hood
    Event Description: We always hear memoirists talk about truth and the importance of telling it, but memories are, in part, determined by how we perceive the world, which is defined by who we are at that moment in place and time. In this presentation we will discuss the importance of family and individuality, and we will view photographs that illustrate the impossibility of being able to tell a perfect truth based on personal memory, and we will discuss the difference between complete honesty and incomplete truth..

Many thanks to Libby and Helen for inviting me to be part of their presentations. It’s tough competition to get an event accepted, I’m thrilled for them, and will be at the first one with copies of The Nutty News.

Happy reading!


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