South Shore Authors Leading the Literary Scene
Photos by Andrew Ayer
Writing is, by nature, a solitary art. This is especially true for authors of novels, who spend countless hours in front of their computers or lost in the stacks of their local library. Nevertheless, the South Shore is home to a surprisingly vibrant writers’ community, which has nurtured the careers of published authors like Hallie Ephron, Lynne Griffin, Jan Brogan, and Margaret McLean. From hardcover bestsellers to digital eReaders, these talented wordsmiths are navigating the ever-changing literary landscape and inspiring the next generation of writers (and readers) in the process.
It’s not uncommon to find acclaimed mystery writer Hallie Ephron quietly doing research in a corner of the Milton Public Library where her own books (all 11 of them) occupy a shelf in the local author section. Readers who venture to read her books, however, discover gripping tales of psychological suspense.
You might say Ephron was born to be a writer. Growing up in Beverly Hills, California, her parents Henry and Phoebe Ephron were screenwriters of such classics as “Desk Set” and “Carousel,” and she and her three sisters were all raised to have an appreciation for the written word. While Ephron’s sisters followed in her parent’s footsteps to pursue careers in screenwriting, Hallie took her time discovering her passion for mysteries.
“I cut my teeth reading Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes as a kid,” says Ephron, who first taught elementary and later college level classes before turning her attention to writing. Her novels include Never Tell a Lie (Wm. Morrow, 2009), which was turned into the movie And Baby Will Fall for the Lifetime Movie Network, and Come and Find Me (Wm. Morrow, March, 2011).
Since becoming an author Ephron has continued to teach, both by penning books like Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel: How to Knock ‘Em Dead with Style and serving as a mentor to aspiring authors at numerous writers’ conferences across the country, including the annual New England Crime Bake.
“The mystery writing community is very well connected,” says Ephron, who is a member of the New England Sisters in Crime, a group dedicated to the development and advancement of women crime writers. She is also a contributor to an active crime fiction blog known as Jungle Red Writers. Having such a diverse and supportive network of fellow writers means that Ephron always has someone to lean on if she needs an honest editor, and parties to plan when books get published. Ephron’s latest book, There Was an Old Woman, is due to be released in April of 2013. For more information, visit www.hallieephron.com
On Saturday afternoons at 3 p.m., Margaret McLean, a mother of three from Norwell, switches on the microphone atop her desk to host a two-hour live online radio show called “It’s a Crime.” Listeners from across the United States tune-in each week to hear McLean, a law professor, former prosecutor, and acclaimed crime novelist, delve into topics relating to real life criminal investigations, law enforcement, and controversial court cases. McLean credits her legal background for driving her success as a fiction writer.
McLean is the author of two critically acclaimed legal thrillers, Under Fire (Macmillan, 2011), which features an arson and murder trial, and Under Oath, (MacMillan, 2012), which follows the code of silence murders in Boston.
“My strength is in writing trial scenes,” says McLean, who prosecuted hundreds of criminal cases during her career, including cases of drug trafficking, arson, domestic violence, rape, and burglary. “Being around police officers, judges, and lawyers has really informed my writing,” says McLean, who is part of a close-knit Boston-area mystery writing community.
McLean is the president of the New England chapter of the Mystery Writers of America and is also co-chair of the New England Crime Bake. Currently, she is at work on her third book, titled
Under Treason and she was recently offered her first non-fiction project, which would require her to document the upcoming Whitey Bulger trial. When she’s not writing, McLean provides on-air legal commentary for NECN’s popular Morning Show and the new television series, “Celebrity Crime Files” on the New York City television channel, TV 1. A paperback version of McLean’s book Under Fire will hit bookstores in December. For more information on her books or radio show, visit www.itsacrimeradio.com or www.margaretmclean.com
uthor Jan Brogan approaches mystery writing through the eyes of a seasoned journalist. A former staff writer for the Providence Journal and the Worcester Telegram, she never expected to find herself weaving together biotech scandals and action scenes set in abandoned warehouses. Drawing from her vast experiences as a scientific and investigative reporter, her novels are filled with vibrant plots and chilling realism.
Taking a page from her personal experiences, Brogan built her stories around the often dramatic world of newspaper reporters and police investigations. Her first novel, Final Copy (Larcom Press) won The Drood Review Editors’ Choice award and was named one of the best eight mysteries published in 2001. She later penned a series of novels: A Confidential Source (Mysterious Press), Yesterday’s Fatal (St. Martin’s Minotaur), and Teaser (St. Martin´s Minotaur), which follow the adventures of fictional sleuth reporter, Hallie Ahern.
A member of Sisters in Crime, New England, Mystery Writers of America, and The Author’s Guild, Brogan credits her fellow mystery writers, her “partners in crime,” for helping her to develop her creative voice. She has paid the favor forward by teaching novel writing workshops at places as the Cape Cod Writer’s Center, the Boston Learning Society in Needham, The Brown University Learning Community and The Learning Connection in Providence. She also runs author manuscript critiques at the New England Crime Bake. She is also a contributor to the Jungle Red Writers blog.
Well known for her mysteries, Brogan has decided to take on a new genre for her latest writing project. She is deep into the development of a new historical fiction book, based heavily upon the real life captains and wives of the New England whaling industry. “I’ve always loved history and the research that goes into building a story,” says Brogan. “It’s also what I love most about being a journalist.” Brogan has kept her journalistic edge by continuing to freelance for various publications. You can catch her articles about science, health, and wellness once a month on the cover of the Boston Globe’s “G” section. For more information, visit www.janbrogan.com
Like many writers, Lynne Griffin’s road to becoming a published author was winding. A registered nurse and nationally recognized family life educator, Griffin has successfully published both fiction and non-fiction books, and has learned a lot about the industry in the process. She recently turned her attention to helping out the next generation of aspiring authors, offering tips on getting their work noticed and crafting a career.
Griffin is the author of two novels: Sea Escape (Simon & Schuster, 2010) and Life Without Summer (St. Martin’s Press, 2009), as well as a nonfiction guide to parenting called Negotiation Generation: Take Back Your Parental Authority Without Punishment (Penguin, 2007). This fall, she put her current novel project on the back burner serve as the co-chair for a unique writer’s “Launch Lab” series, hosted by the Grub Street writing center in Boston.
“I know what it’s like to be on the other side,” says Griffin, who says the workshops get people connected to industry
experts as well as numerous published authors and offers writers helpful career coaching. “It’s the most diverse and rich group of writers that I’ve ever been a part of,” she says.
In addition to writing, Griffin has served as a speaker about family issues Boston’s Fox 25 Morning News, and teaches family studies at the graduate level at Wheelock College in Boston and early childhood education and leadership through their Center for International Education, Leadership, and Innovation. Her next teaching project will send the Scituate resident all the way to Singapore. For more information on the author, visit www.lynnegriffin.com. To learn more about the Grub Street Launch Lab series, visit www.grubstreet.org