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NSA retiree's novel portrays widow seeking a new life[Senior Circles]

This particular column was meant to be.

In April, I received a phone call from Harry Rosenbluh, editor of The Phoenician, the newsletter of the Phoenix Society, which is mostly made up of National Security Agency retirees. Some of our readers may know Rosenbluh or be members of the Phoenix Society.

He asked me to do a review for The Phoenician of a book written by a woman who had worked at NSA. I agreed to do the book review.

Then in June, I received an email from the editor of the Laurel Leader, for whom I work part-time as an editorial assistant. She asked if I would be interested in writing about a senior who had written a novel about seniors. It turned out it was the same author and book that Harry had contacted me about.

So, it was destined that I write about the author, Faye Green, a senior woman who wrote "Dicey," a book whose characters are older adults.

During the interview, when I asked Green if she considered writing a second career, she was hesitant to call it that. She preferred avocation.

Afterward, while driving home (to a 55-plus community in Middletown, Del.), Green thought more deeply about my question, "Do you consider this a new career?" She was sure that I saw that the question made her hesitate and left her without words, which was unusual for her.

In a follow-on email, she wrote, "I believe the writing, publishing and even the public speaking have finally brought me to where I was supposed to be for a long time. I have never felt so comfortable and optimistic about my role. Whether or not writing is a career in the traditional way does not seem to matter to me. Writing does. Everything I have done in my life has led me here and as I look back, I see my path. I have had people who have known me for a long time, tell me that they are not surprised that I am putting books 'out there.' I am the one surprised."

Most of her life, Green has dabbled in poetry, essays and short stories. Her first two books have not yet been published. She has also compiled a book of her poems but isn't ready to publish it because of its personal nature.

Green's third book, "Dicey," was self-published and came out April 1. "Dicey" is about a woman who loses her husband and eventually finds a future for herself after that loss. Through romance, intrigue and a mystery trip to Haiti, Green shows that drama can exist in later life.

This was the first time Green had written about characters her own age. One of the characters is a gambler but Green says, "The book is not about gambling unless you know life is a gamble." The book is an affirmation that aging isn't the end of life, love and happiness.

When readers ask Green if "Dicey" is autobiographical, she replies, "It is fiction. I have never been to Las Vegas and I don't have a closet full of red shoes."

You will have to read the book to find out about the red shoes.  

Another of her books is in the hands of her editor but she doesn't want to publish that one until she has promoted "Dicey" as much as possible. One hundred people attended her first book talk, which was very exciting and encouraging for her.

She wants to continue her book signings and talks, and attending book clubs to discuss her book. Green said, "Writing this book has me doing things."

Another product of her avocation is "Boy on the Wall," an eBook published in 2012. The novelette about "searching for ancestral roots in Ireland," is the story of a boy jailed for stealing bread during the famine. Green's trip to Ireland inspired her to write this piece.

Green was born and grew up in Laurel, and the opening chapter of "Dicey" takes place at the then-named Greater Laurel Beltsville Hospital. One of the characters is a longtime friend of Dicey. The two met in second grade at a Laurel school.

Green weaves places familiar to her into her books — Laurel, a retirement community in Delaware, Bethany Beach, North Carolina and Washington, D.C.

She also has ties to Howard County. Her daughter and family live in Ellicott City; one of her granddaughters goes to Waterloo Elementary School; and cousins live in Triadelphia. Also, there probably are many NSA retirees living in Howard County who remember her or her husband, Bill Green, who died in 2008.

When thoughts come to her, Green takes to her computer and writes three or four chapters. Then she does an outline, which helps define the timeline of the book.

When she writes the outline, she knows how her characters will end up but she doesn't know how they will get there. The choices and emotions of her characters drive her outline. Not big on scene work, she likes to get to the point in her writing and tell the story.

She loves to build characters and make her characters come alive. She especially likes to write "hard" characters — bad guys — because that is so not in her nature.

Green likes different authors for different reasons — a soft, easy read like novels by Nicholas Sparks; Jodi Picoult because she writes about issues; rereading the classics because she always finds something new; and historical fiction.

She loves Edgar Allan Poe because of his construction and the way he writes. Poe, the master of the hook line, grabs the reader with a riveting opening line.

Like Poe, Green makes her opening line a lure to capture the reader's curiosity. She told me, "Poe and I are both fishing for readers."   

My interview with Green lasted two hours, but I must admit some of that time was conversing about places and people we had in common. It was fun and a pleasure connecting with Green and learning about her life and her writing pursuits.

If you are interested in writing and want to talk to Green or if you would like her to speak at your book club or senior center, please contact her at greenvine@verizon.net.

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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