JP Novelist Decides How She’ll Transition to Dust

What should be done with this body of mine when, as the saying on many old New England tombstones goes, I have departed this life? Over the years I spent writing a novel starring a gravedigger, this question crept gradually from the back of my mind to the fore of it. My protagonist, Ben, champions green burials at a graveyard inspired by Forest Hills Cemetery (more on that later), and he devotes a share of his free time to creating a burial suit laden with mushroom spores, designed to turn his remains into “some really nice compost.”

Through several drafts of the novel, Ben both reflected and inspired my burgeoning plans for making an environmentally friendly transition from flesh to dust. Though I wasn’t up for engineering my own burial suit, I started to picture myself being lowered, free of a casket and embalming chemicals, into a hole in some conservation land, a possibility that an episode of the HBO series “Six Feet Under” first brought to my attention. Then my father died.

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Panel discussion among JP authors at the Connolly Branch Library on Monday, July 17, 2017. From left: Katie Bayerl, Mindy Fried, Beth Castrodale and Katie Eelman

JP Authors Share Their Tips for Getting Into Print

Patience, a willingness to learn, and the ability to revise one’s work extensively: those are just a few of the qualities that were essential to the success of three Jamaica Plain authors who took part in a panel discussion on book writing and publishing Monday evening. The discussion, held at the Connolly Branch of the Boston Public Library, was moderated by Katie Eelman, director of media and events at Papercuts JP and co-founder and editor-in-chief at Cutlass Press, an independent book publisher based out of Papercuts. The story of her blacklisted father

As the panelists noted, it can take years to get from the idea stage to a polished, edited book. “You can’t be impatient because it takes forever and a day,” said Mindy Fried, author of Caring for Red: A Daughter’s Memoir. Fried said that her book began as blog posts about her elderly father’s experiences in assisted living and evolved into a memoir about her role in his care giving, one that offers a sociological perspective on the subject.

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