In 2005, when I started writing my first novel — in an effort to figure out what in the world I was doing — I began to follow the careers of other writers, online. One of my favorite blogs at the time was called, Simply Wait, written by Cape Cod novelist and poet, Patry Francis. Honest and inspiring, Patry wrote about life and love and writing. Neither of us had book contracts at the time, yet I could tell we shared the same dream of having our fiction published.
For months, I read her thoughtful posts and gentle poetry first thing in the morning. Commenting here and there, we struck up a virtual friendship until in 2007, we both published our debut novels. I was front and center at Patry’s book event at Buttonwood Books. And she cheered me on at mine.
Over the years, we’ve enjoyed many deep and meaningful conversations about living a literary life. It was through Patry that I learned about the Literary Blues Pie.
One of the first posts I made here concerned a dinner I enjoyed at the home of writer, Marilynne Robinson and her former husband, Fred. I gushed longingly over a blueberry pie Marilynne had made, a concoction as magical and evanescent as the evening itself.
After posting my entry, the magic of the blueberry pie continued. I was contacted by writer, Susan Messer who swore she had the recipe for the pastry I’d described. Thus the magic of the pie was spread to the many readers who were engaged, amused, and inspired by her pieces.
Since it was the magnificent blueberry that brought us together, we planned to do something special in its honor. Thus, the scheme of baking a pie for our insatiable muses was born.
Each summer, I vacation in Maine with my family, and we all agree, there is nothing like the taste of freshly picked wild Maine blueberries. So I decided to join Patry and Susan in paying homage to my artistic inspiration, wherever it may come from.
For seventeen years, I’ve enjoyed a lovely friendship with Patry. Last year, I had the honor of interviewing her on the release of her third, beautiful novel, All the Children are Home. For seventeen summers, I’ve lovingly crafted my Literary Blues Pie, introducing it to my children’s partners, and this year, to my darling grandson.
With the sweet, comes the bitter. This summer, my baking experience was also filled with grief. In June, Patry Francis — talented novelist and treasured friend — passed away. While there will be no new perceptive and lovely novels to read for the first time, no forthcoming essays to linger over, I’m grateful I can meet Patry in the pages of her work. And every August, I’ll keep making my pie, dedicating it to my muse and to my friend.
I’ll take Patry’s advice too.
Eat it with good company and make sure you discuss something literary while you’re enjoying your pie. Then sit back and wait for the magic.