Concord, Massachusetts

Two weeks of talks, readings, and discussions celebrating the written and the spoken word.

Melanie Brooks

Events: Writing the Hard Stories: How Memoirists Cope

Book: Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma; A Complicated Grief

Visit Author's Website

Melanie Brooks graduated with a degree in English from Gordon College and then earned a Bachelor of Education from Dalhousie University. She later earned a Master of Science for Teachers of English from the University of New Hampshire. She began her career teaching high school social studies and then went on to teach middle school English. After her children were born, she began teaching college writing. She currently teaches professional writing at Northeastern University and Merrimack College and creative writing at Nashua Community College in Nashua. She completed her MFA in creative nonfiction through the Stonecoast Creative Writing Program at the University of Southern Maine.

In 1985, when Melanie was thirteen years old, her father, a prominent general and thoracic surgeon, was infected with HIV from contaminated blood during open-heart surgery when he suffered a heart attack at age 42. Ignorance and hysteria about AIDS were at their heights. Believing he had only months to live and afraid of the stigma of this disease, her father decided to keep his illness a secret. No one imagined that he would live another ten years. But he did. And for ten years, the secret of his illness and the specter of disaster that inevitably loomed ahead defined her life.

Two years ago, she began writing a painful family story that has now become a memoir, A Complicated Grief.  Writing into the memories of this part of her life left her with some difficult questions: What does it take to write an honest memoir? And what happens to us when we embark on that journey?  She decided to approach the writers whose memoirs moved her and ask these questions. Their replies – honest and soul-searing – comprise Writing Hard Stories.