In this month’s author Q&A, Melody Nixon speaks with Nicola Waldron about finding and feeling at home, the American Dream versus the British Dream, and wanderlust. Waldron’s essay “The Land Up North” appeared in Issue No. 04 of The Common.
MN: In your essay “The Land Up North” you write about the sense of security and possibility afforded you by the land that you and your husband bought in the Catskills. The essay is poetically written, highly evocative of place, and has an appealing lightness of language. Who are your influences? Do you read mainly nonfiction?
NW: That essay was written when I was reading a lot of nonfiction. Dinah Lenney, the author of “Bigger than Life,” was my teacher at Bennington and is one of my great hero-mentors. She recommended to me Abigail Thomas’s work, especially her book “Safekeeping,” and my essay was written in response to that book. I’d also just been reading Jo Ann Beard.
The Question of Home: An Interview with Nicola Waldron
Writing in Place is a column in which authors published in our print and web pages tell us about their writing spaces.
I write in a glass-sided room, an addition to a 1950s brick bungalow, southern style. From the threshold that once led to the outdoors, it’s just one giant stride to my desk: space enough to tap at a keyboard, or lie down; for books and papers to breed, but not for dancing (a tiny tango when someone says yes).
We bought it to build a dream on, to propagate. He wanted to plant fruit trees and dig a pond; I imagined a center for healing, where women would come to believe again in possibility. We would build writing sheds, one for each of us, and a ring of rustic cabins for the women. In the mornings, we would come together, then go our separate ways. We’d meet up for dinner, to watch the shadows grow.