Tales of a Late-Blooming Novelist

We sit down with local writer Polly Dugan, whose debut book So Much a Part of You appears this month.

By Peter Holmstrom June 2, 2014 Published in the June 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

You’re publishing your first book at the age of 48. Late bloomer?

I tried to write fiction in college, decades ago, in the ’80s. I continued to try to write in my twenties, badly. I still have boxes and boxes of terrible stories, mostly inspired by heartache. It wasn’t until my sons were 3 and 1, in 2006, that I sat down to write again. I felt like I had stories worth telling—different than being in my twenties, because those weren’t good stories.

The book features distinct but interconnected stories. Did you write them with that in mind?

The stories were originally unrelated. As I started to get feedback, I realized they had similarities. 

Aside from plot, darkness unifies your stories. Where does that come from?

My husband and I have this ongoing joke: he says he’s darker, I say I’m darker. People are like icebergs. There’s always so much more going on than what even the people closest to us know. “Resilience” is used so optimistically. Resilience is what the world sees. What I show are these moments that add up to someone being called “resilient.” 

You landed a two-book deal, with a novel coming next spring. How’s that going?

It’s finished. We’re talking about cover art and all this fun stuff. It’s such a fun part of the publishing world, going from what started as a story in my head to talking about release schedules.

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