Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Meet author Jessie Salisbury

Posted by Susan J Berger on 3:00:00 AM with 10 comments
Please tell us a little about yourself. 

I have been a romance writer most of my life, beginning in high school, but mostly short stories. I just turned 80. My first published stories were in local anthologies. "Orchard Hill" is my first published novel. I write an equal amount of fantasy and am looking for a publisher for a series.

I don't consider romance writing a second career since I am still writing for the local paper. It is more of a co-career. I am a journalist and have lived in southern New Hampshire most of my life. For over 40 years I been covering several small towns and currently write part time for The Cabinet in Milford, both news reporting and features plus some photography. Most of my fiction writing, before happening on romantic novels, was short stories on life in New England, our history and small town foibles. A number of those are in local anthologies. I have five grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, and six great-grands. I have been writing all my life. My earliest memories are of poems in about grade three. I wish I still had them. In high school, I was a Scholastic Magazine winner for Northern New England. I took off a number of years while my children were little, writing only for myself in my spare time, but took a reporting job when circumstances required that I go to work part time.
 I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when a publisher told you they wanted to publish your book.
This is a hard one since my first published book was as co-author of “Images of America: Wilton, Temple, Lyndeborough,”a history picture book from Arcadia Press sponsored by our Historical Society. Of which I am a charter member. With a regular history column as well as weekly news, publishing was more evolving than happening. Orchard Hill was my first published novel.
I came across Soul Mate in a newsletter, I don't recall which one. It was the second publisher to whom I sent "Orchard Hill." I was totally amazed it was accepted, and even more amazed when Debbie accepted "A Heart Mended." I wrote both stories originally in the '70s. "Orchard Hill" is written as a flashback, pretty much the way I wrote it. Its the story of  Jocelyn,  a young woman who goes back to the family orchard (a commercial operation) to escape a bitter divorce. She meets one of the apple pickers, a very attractive French Canadian, who is more than willing to thaw out her frozen heart, but she is also pursed by her attorney, an equally attractive friend who had loved her silently for years.

 Other than your own, who are your favorite (heroes/heroines/writers) in your genre? 
Mary Stewart. Nora Roberts. Ellis Peters always included a romance in “Brother Cadfael,” and I love those. My favorite fiction writer is probably Tony Hillerman. Mostly I read non-fiction, particularly history.
What fun. I have read all of your Favorites. Reading Nora Roberts this week.
 What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career? 
That is still to come – the moment I can hold a printed novel – “A Heart Mended” is coming out this summer. I am a print person, not an e-book fan, I don’t even have one yet.
If I had to pick a most exciting moment, it would probably be the week the paper printed my full page story, (not even an ad), with seven pictures of a group of Native Americans preparing ash bark for their new long house for their reservation on Cape Cod. I had that laminated.
 What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
 Reading, of course, and then traveling, visiting the family in other parts of the country. My son is in New Mexico, my daughter in So. Carolina, a good place to escape a New England winters. Both of my sons were career Air Force and I got to visit a lot of places where they were stationed, from England to Alaska. For many years I was into knitting, crocheting, crewel work, and oil painting, but have now mostly turned just to writing.
 Any advice for new writers just starting out?
Write, write, write. Try a variety of styles, outlooks, points of view. You can’t know what you like until you try it. Me, I can’t write in first person. What genre or genres do you write? While most of my published fiction is romance or general contemporary, my true love is fantasy. That is probably an escape from news writing. I’m still hunting a publisher for my series set in another world.
 Tell us about A Heart Mended.
 A Heart Mended more a love story than a romance. It certainly doesn’t have any hot sexy stuff. The hero, Will, whose heart definitely needs mending, is 40, suffering from both a recent heart attack which has caused him to leave his beloved job with the Forest Service, and the betrayal by his young wife some years ago which has left him convinced he cannot love or be loved. He has taken a job as a nature counselor at a resident youth camp where he feels he can hide from the world. He is discovered there by Shannon, the much younger camp nurse, who sees him for what he really is and over the course of two summers has come to love him deeply. She is determined to bring him back into the world, particularly her world, but she will accept his if he will return to it. The story is complicated by Robbie, a camper who turns out to be the son of his ex-wife, bringing it all back to him to re-examine. Robbie is constantly bullied by his cabin mates, bringing him to Will’s attention and arousing his interest. In the end, Will has to rescue the boy from a burning barn, suffering another heart attack in the process.

What made you write A Heart Mended?
Writing the book was an experiment. I first wrote it sometime in the early 1970s – judging by the technology. The boy originally used a Polaroid Instamatic for a plot-needed picture. Updating the technology was an interesting exercise. As most camps do, this one banned all electronics, forcing me to provide each camper with a disposable camera. I actually first tried to write the story as a short piece but it never worked, resulting in the original novel. Finding it in the file and redoing it was a lot of fun, reinforcing that old advice: never give up on any piece of writing.

 Excerpts from A Heart Mended
 He moved his arm away from her, abruptly releasing her from his embrace and put his hands on her shoulders, facing him. She sat a little straighter and met his intent gaze. Although his face was in shadow and she couldn’t really see his eyes, she could feel his suppressed anger. He held her with both hands, away from him for a moment, not speaking, and then, suddenly, pulled her closer and kissed her, gently at first, and then harder. He released her as suddenly as he’d grabbed her, and leaned back against the side of the barn, his eyes closed, and his face haggard in the soft white of the moonlight. * * * He smelled the acrid smoke before he reached the barn, before Corey came out of the gloom, crying, and clutched desperately at him. “Robbie,” he gasped, choking. “Robbie’s in the barn.” The barn door was open, a red glow showing evilly behind the roiling smoke pouring out. “Where?” Panic hit his constricting chest and the pit of his stomach. “The barn’s on fire! Where is he?” “Tied to the post at the bottom of the stairs.” There was stark fear in the boy’s voice. “We didn’t mean to. Honest, Mr. Bonneville.” Will didn’t want to listen to explanations. “Tied?” He could hear the crackling of the fire now, and thick smoke rolled out of the open door. “We tied him up so he wouldn’t run away and tell on us.” “Go get Miss Conley to sound the alarm. Send her up here. I’ll get Robbie.” He was already running up the hill, fumbling for the jacknife he always kept in his pocket. He hesitated a moment in the barn door. The smoke was too thick to see through, but he stepped over the high threshold orienting himself as he did so. The stairs were on the left. “Rob? Robbie, where are you?” Will heard the sounds of coughing and choking and turned that way. Although the flames made it light enough to see, it was too hot and there was too much thick smoke. Will shuffled toward the sounds. Robbie was there, tied to the post as Corey had said. Finding the cords around his wrists and cutting him free took only a moment. Then Will had the boy by the arm, pulling him, stumbling away from the heat of the spreading fire toward the open door, to be out of the thick smoke into fresh air and the safety that was only a few steps away.
 What’s your current WIP?
 I have a contract with Soul Mate for a collection of romantic short fiction, “Rainbows: 15 Tales of Love” to be released sometime this fall. Short fiction, I think, is what I do best. My current WIP is another rewrite, much more complicated than “A Heart Mended.” It was my first contemporary novel probably written in the mid-1950s. My only copy, which is undated, is a carbon copy of a typewritten version. The story is still valid: families are still dysfunctional in the same ways; young men still want women they can’t have; well-meaning fathers still say the wrong thing to their teenagers; a accident which leaves a person physically handicapped can still change a person’s goals and outlook. But in 1950 there were no cell phones, no 911, doctors still made house calls and an accident would leave a person in the hospital for weeks, where now they are shipped to re hab and home ASAP. It is requiring a total rewrite. A real challenge.
 And finally, where can we find you?
On Facebook, on Linked in, at jessies@tellink.net, or in a small town that even most New Hampshire people have never heard of. Both of my books are available through Amazon. I do not yet have a web page. Google me and you will find a batch of newspaper stories and four books. I was one of those people who got taken in by PublishAmerica. I got out before they were sued for breach of contract and other things and did not lose any money. I guess that book “The Elmwood Stores” is a collectors item since it is no longer available.
Thank you, Jessie for being here and sharing your journey. Jessie is giving away a copy each of Orchard Hill and A Heart Mended.
You know the drill.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Jessie's a great writer and a dear friend, entirely too modest about her accomplishments. I loved Orchard Hill, gotta get me a copy of A Heart Mended.

  2. Nice to read about you, Jessie. I'm a former journalist - great that you're still at it! Thanks, Susan, for the post. Good luck to you both.

  3. Hi Jessie, Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. Best of luck with sales. Joanne

  4. Congrats to Jessie on her new book. I loved the interview. Jessie's life is so inspiring. Hope I'm still writing at 80.

  5. wonderful post, Jessie. You are an inspiration to us all.

  6. Jessie, you've inspired me to keep writing despite the perils and pitfalls of authorship. I can't wait to read your books!

  7. Beautiful. Totally rockin' it at 80!

  8. Beautiful. Totally rockin' it at 80!

  9. How very inspiring. Makes me feel young. :) I love your covers, especially Orchard Hill.


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