Angels in the Brine

Hello, my name is Richard Quinn and I am the author of “Angels in the Brine.”  A little about myself would be in order before telling you about my literary adventure. I have been married to my best friend and wife for over forty years, and between us we have three children and seven grandchildren. I live in Western Massachusetts, in the town of Florence. The area we live in is commonly known as the Five College area and is comprised of Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts. The dreaded draft was still in effect when I finished high school, so at the age of seventeen, I joined the army in order to fulfill that obligation. Three years of Army life proved to be enough of the military lifestyle for me — thankfully, I did not see any action.

After the Army, I got married and went to work in a factory — jobs were scarce and a good job required a better education or a valued trade. One day, as I read the local newspaper, I spotted an opportunity to test for a job with AT&T. I passed the testing requirements for AT&T and began a thirty- one year career that changed my life. I learned about electronics and management on the fly. The two most important lessons learned with AT&T were that anything moving at or about the speed of light can change the way the world operates, and secondly, all work is part of a process — not understanding the process reflects on your work. Upon retiring from AT&T, I went back to school and received my Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Massachusetts. It was at the university that I developed a great fondness for writing and couldn’t wait to write that book.

There is the old adage “that one must learn to walk before attempting to run,” and so it was with writing. I started out by writing a children’s book about a pelican named Bart and I wrote a short story that was in effect, a memoire about the little town named Leeds, where I grew up. Both of my early attempts met with favor and they stirred my desire to write something of more consequence. It was here that I started my literary journey known as Angels in the Brine.

I believe writing is an evolutionary process — it was for me and I would find it difficult to understand that it could be much different for most writers. My story is a historical saga that spans 150 years and three continents. I actually started at the end of my three-part story and developed the rest from there. Writing the last phase first, prompted me to ask myself why and how these people got here. They left their homes in Ireland during the Potato Famine and unlike most immigrants of the day, they sailed to Australia for a new life. When I talk about “they,” I am referring to two families that met on the docks of Cobh, Ireland, and developed a friendship that would continue with succeeding members of the families through several generations. Their lives were fulfilled in Australia and that begs the question as to why some would break off and come to America, but they did.

For as much as I love history and geography and all that these elements add to a story, I have long believed that it is the characters that drive the direction, the tone, and the focus of a story. As I write, I am always reminded of the story “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” by John Fowles. As he attempted to end the story, first one, then a second character tapped him on the shoulder and said, I wouldn’t do it that way. His character were so powerful in his mind that he had to write three endings. I love developing characters that fit the era, the place, and the mood of the story — they are the engine that drives unique and interesting dialogue.

Although my story is a fictional piece, most of the elements that drive the narrative are derived from facts and factual accounts. I had to do a fair amount of study in order to make the story something other than a fanciful flight of imagination, so I learned a lot more about the world and different eras than I would have otherwise known.

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