Andrew Shattuck McBride, 52, is among the contributors to the latest issue of "Clover: A Literary Rag." It's the fourth publication of poetry and stories from participants in the Bellingham's Independent Writers' Studio (which meets in the Clover building on Holly Street) and others, in a series edited by Mary Elizabeth Gillilan and published by Norman L. Green.
Several of the contributors, including McBride, will read their works at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13, at Village Books, 1200 11th St. For more on McBride, go to http://andrewsmcbride.wordpress.com.
Question: How did your youth inspire what you write?
Answer: My family moved to the island of Hawaii when I was an infant. I grew up in Volcano, a small town near the summit of Kilauea volcano. Dad was a ranger with the National Park Service.
Dad and Mom divorced when I was 6 years old, and Dad gained custody. Luckily, Dad and Mom resumed being friends after the divorce.
Dad was brilliant. He was a writer, storyteller, woodcarver and educator. He was very talented. Dad and Mom were voracious readers, and their houses were full of books. I became a voracious reader, too.
While I am particularly inspired by the natural world, I'm inspired by everything: what I see and hear, bits and pieces of conversations I overhear, my childhood, my years in the Navy, my adult life and by current events.
Q: What brought you to Bellingham?
A: I moved to Bellingham in 2001 after meeting Joyce. Joyce and I had a whirlwind romance, courtship and divorce. I'm appreciative of the fact that Joyce helped me find Bellingham!
Q: Do you earn your living by writing?
A: I work part-time and edit part-time, and am always interested in considering new editing jobs. I write nearly full-time; my goal is to have my writing pay my way.
I don't have a rigid schedule for creating work. I write nearly every day, and tend to be sad if I miss a day.
Q: Who encouraged you as a writer?
A: In the late 1990s I realized I wanted to be a writer. All I wanted to do was write. I have Dad as an example; some of his books are still in print. In 2009, just before Mom died, she read and complimented some of my first poems and encouraged me to write more.
I am blessed to have several mentors: Jim Milstead, Judy Teresa, Jennifer Bullis, James Bertolino, Anita K. Boyle, Mary Gillilan and Seren Fargo. There are many more. Terry Tempest Williams - a fine writer and lovely human being - talked with me after her reading for "Finding Beauty in a Broken World" when she was in Bellingham. She was genuinely interested in my writing. In my copy of her book, she wrote "Andrew - courage with your writing."
This was an extraordinary gift from her; I remain in awe.
I am also grateful for fellow readers and audience members - many of them fine writers themselves - at open microphone events who have given me positive feedback. These include Jack McCarthy, Lana Hechtman Ayers, Dick Harris, Jennifer Bullis, C.J. Prince and Rae Ellen Lee. I am particularly grateful for audience members who have thanked me for what I read and asked for copies of my poems.
Q: What's "Clover" all about?
A: It's a fine literary journal with astonishing depth of talented writers. I am grateful to editor Mary Gillilan for selecting several of my poems for her journal over the past two years. Mary leads writing groups at Independent Writers' Studio. I find Mary's attention and feedback to be superb.
Q: Are you in other writers' groups?
A: I joined Nancy Canyon's writing group briefly, and found her timed writing exercises to be invaluable for me in generating new, fresh material.
I've been a member of Seren Fargo's Bellingham Haiku Group since 2009. Japanese-style short form poems such as haiku were not on my radar until Seren invited me to join her group. Her leadership of the group and her mentoring have been superb. Thanks to Seren, the quality of my short poems has improved steadily, and I've had poems published as far away as Ireland.
I joined Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater, led by Carla Shafer, in 2010. CSWT is a small but dedicated group of writers working in all genres. There is a CSWT open mic monthly.
Village Books has a fine open mic nearly every month, and emcee Laurel Leigh is a friendly, professional presence.
I enjoy these writing groups and open mic venues because participants and audience members are writers and readers who are interested in other writers' work and listen carefully. Writers in these groups are dedicated to improving their craft. The groups and venues are very inspiring, too.
Q: What else do you like doing in Bellingham?
A: I also enjoy walking, bird- and animal-watching, my (inside) cats, an occasional movie, Irish coffee, an occasional dinner out in the town, and reading. If you see me take out my little black Moleskine notebook and start writing, don't worry-I'm inspired.