INTERVIEW: Linda Murphy Marshall, Author of Ivy Lodge: A Memoir of Translation and Discovery

Interview by Megan Vered

Linda Murphy Marshall At a young age Linda Murphy Marshall gravitated toward foreign languages and writing. The St. Louis native studied Spanish throughout high school and college, where she spent her junior year abroad at what is now known as the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Later, she branched out into French, and then Portuguese, German, and Russian in graduate school.

After completing her master’s. and Ph.D., Linda became a translator for the Federal government and, subsequently, trained and worked extensively in African languages. Her work, which included composing journalistic-style reports, took her on more than a dozen trips to Sub-Saharan Africa. She also co-wrote an instructional book on the “click” language, Xhosa, and acted as a consultant on a book about another “click” language, Sotho.

In 2018, Linda received an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Since graduating, her work has appeared in more than 25 literary journals, and one of her paintings was featured on the 2021 cover of Adanna Literary Journal. In addition, she is a trustee for the National Museum of Language, a docent at the Library of Congress, a reader for Fourth Genre, and served as translation editor for the Los Angeles Review.

Linda’s first memoir, Ivy Lodge: A Memoir of Translation and Discovery, was released in August 2022 from She Writes Press—and it received a starred review from Kirkus.

In my conversation with Linda, I learned how she used her keen linguistic skills to “translate” the language of her childhood to gain insights about herself and her family of origin. We discussed objects and houses as metaphor, the false front of appearances, the role of women within a patriarchal setting, the power of language as well as the unspoken word, the inspiration of music, and how, in writing Ivy Lodge, she found the self-love that she’d been craving.


Megan Vered: Your book takes place in one day. Was this your original concept when you started the book?  What kinds of challenges did you encounter by focusing on a single day?

Linda Murphy Marshall: The book taking place in one day wasn’t my original concept. My original plan was to write a ten-page essay about Ivy Lodge, my childhood home, but when I did so, I discovered that there were many other things to write about, and the essay gradually became a book.

MV: So, in a certain way this book was a big surprise?

LMM: When I think of surprises, I think of sudden, unforeseen occurrences. I think this was more of a slow-moving revelation, since the book took nearly eight years to write. It felt more like I was building something a brick at a time, an insight at a time, and sometimes I’d have to knock down what I’d done and build it again, or at least a section, as my thoughts and memories became clearer. But, having said that, the day I spent at Ivy Lodge in 2000, sorting through my parents’ things, being bombarded by memories in the process, jump-started the whole process. It marked the start of a journey in which I wrote my own truth.

That was further accelerated when I attended the Iowa Summer Writer’s Workshop in 2014. The theme for one of the workshops was Writing About Nowhere. It was intended for writers who wanted to expand their descriptive skills, focus on adding pertinent details to their writing. I thought the workshop would force me to slow down my writing, and it did, but I didn’t realize that writing an essay about my childhood home, about Ivy Lodge, would open Pandora’s box, be the impetus for forcing me to look at the years I spent in that house through a new, different lens.

As clichéd as it sounds, it was life-changing because it caused me to rethink many aspects of those years, and no longer look at them through the filter of my parents’ eyes. In the process, I believe I gained a new awareness of who I was and how I fit into my family of origin. Until writing that essay, I might have railed against my parents’ definition of who I was, tried not to internalize their words and behavior, but at a deep level, I believed I was a completely flawed person in every way: physically, emotionally, intellectually. I thought if I could convince them of my worth, then it would rub off on me, that that was the only way to feel good about myself.

Book Cover: Ivy Lodge

Each draft of my memoir was a discovery and brought insights, revelations into my self-concept. I think if I’d written it in a year or two, those insights would not have materialized. It was like a diver coming to the surface after having been submerged for hours; I had to do it gradually or it would have been too much to absorb and, in many cases, too painful. In my case, for instance, it was far easier to believe that all roads led to me, to my imperfections, when looking at my family’s dysfunction. If only I could “fix” myself, be a better daughter, person, life would be wonderful.

Writing the book allowed me to rethink this premise, allowed me to consider that there were other possibilities. Maybe others in my family were just as flawed as I was. Maybe their feelings for me would never change, no matter how hard I tried. Maybe the myth they built up around our family was their attempt to hide a multitude of unpleasant realities, realities it took me years of writing to unearth. As a result, back to your question, even though the book takes place on a single day, the writing of the book was protracted, for the reasons I’ve outlined.

The memoir also focuses on a single day because of two coinciding events: the deaths of my parents a year and a half apart and having to go through everything in the house that particular day. Those events acted as a catalyst for me to “translate” my life in Ivy Lodge. I examined my years there with new eyes, no longer using the filter of my parents’ words. And being in the physical space with so many things from my past allowed me to reconsider events and memories. The objects were the caretakers of those memories and allowed me to look at them from a different angle, for the first time. 

 

“It felt more like I was building something a brick at a time, an insight at a time, and sometimes I’d have to knock down what I’d done and build it again, or at least a section, as my thoughts and memories became clearer” — Linda Murphy Marshall

 

MV: Sense-making is a huge theme in your memoir. You use your childhood home and its many rooms, as well as the long-forgotten objects you speak about to decode your parents’ lack of affection. As I read, I couldn’t help but think of Ann Patchett’s novel The Dutch House, in which the house is a character. I’d love to hear your thoughts about houses, and in the case of your book, objects, as character. 

LMM: I feel like Ivy Lodge is definitely a character, as well as the objects contained within it. As I write in my memoir, everything changed significantly in our relationships when we moved there—although I saw this in hindsight. Overnight we took on a false front, became something to the world that we weren’t, looked like a wealthy family. The house was also the keeper of my memories, which tumbled out when I returned to Ivy Lodge, the objects themselves invoking scenes from my childhood.

I also think I needed to be present, in the house, in its rooms, walking on its grounds, to capture these past scenes. I’d been unable to fully do so back home in Maryland. It was only when I joined my siblings to sort through everything that, in a sense, the house permitted its secrets to be released, almost as if it allowed some sort of substance to be emitted which triggered many of the memories. Back home in Maryland, the memories—good and bad—were more static, far less fleshed out than when I was there in person.

MV: Kafka said, “Books are the axe that breaks up the frozen sea within us.” How does this apply to your process of writing the book?

LMM: The Kafka quote is one I’m not familiar with but is so appropriate. I think the frozen sea within me was my worldview, one that had remained largely the same since I was a very young child. I accepted my parents’ perception of the world in which I—we—lived and took that as gospel. My parents were perfect in my eyes and, although I rebelled against many of their ideas and rules, I think I felt powerless to change anything, to negate whatever self-concept I had picked up from their input. It never occurred to me to question their motivation, the baseline of their behavior towards me. As a result, changing my mind about who I was, and about who they were, took years, so the book evolved during the eight years it took to write it, as I discovered more and more about my past, about Ivy Lodge, about myself, about what went on there.

Similarly, the objects I took home from Ivy Lodge as keepsakes were ones that evoked positive memories, but my almost childlike feeling was that, if my parents had loved these things, some of their love would rub off on me, their new owner. So, my motivation for rescuing them in the first place was somewhat flawed. But the objects do represent their numerous hobbies and pursuits. I sometimes find myself wishing they’d been my aunt and uncle, or even grandparents, those relatives not usually required to do the heavy-lifting and messy work parents do, but still an integral part of one’s life. They were interesting, hard-working, brilliant people with equally fascinating hobbies, but I needed a place to go at the end of the day, someplace safe.

 

“I must have written ten or more drafts as I became more adept at translating my life, and—very important—as I became braver about that process of discovery.” — Linda Murphy Marshall

 

Initially, in early drafts, I think I tended to look at things more literally, maybe with more anger, in a more binary fashion, paraphrasing Kafka’s quote, as the frozen sea within me. But the more I worked on it, the more nuanced it became, I think, the more I was able to have greater insight, as though I were putting a puzzle together, breaking up the chunks of ice I had lived with for decades. It didn’t just spring whole from my mind; it was a process of digging and digging, unearthing.

So, I guess in that sense, an early draft of my memoir might have looked like a different version of my life, when it was just the beginning of the evolutionary process, if that makes sense. I must have written ten or more drafts as I became more adept at translating my life, and—very important—as I became braver about that process of discovery.

MV: Both of your parents spent an inordinate amount of time in the basement involved in repetitive activities. You tell us your father was reclaiming his childhood with his electric trains. What do you think your mother was doing with her compulsive ironing and list making? Why do you think she took the time to list every single item she ironed, things that were only going to become wrinkled all over again?

LMM: While it’s true that both my parents spent a lot of time in the basement, their reasons for being there greatly differed. The basement and the adjacent rathskeller were where my father stored most of his trains and their paraphernalia. If he wanted to tinker with an engine, or piece of equipment, or anything else pertaining to their functioning, he usually did it in the basement and rathskeller.

The time my mother spent in the basement was focused on laundry and ironing because that’s what was expected of her as a post-World War II bride (1942). I don’t know that my father ever told her that he expected her to iron every piece of our clothing, including undergarments, but she clearly believed that was part of her job. As for keeping a record of everything she ironed, I can only guess that it was so she had something tangible to show for all her work since, as you note, all of it was just going to become wrinkled again. It was evidence of one of the thankless jobs she was expected to do.

MV: I can see how her ironing is a metaphor for a feeling of futility. When asked how we find metaphor, Sue Silverman tells us to: 1) be immersed in the senses; 2) place ourselves in the scene; and 3) slant the details in a way that conveys our feelings. She explains that this gives objects meaning and allows the reader to enter our experience. I certainly felt like I was walking through the house with you as I read the book. Can you talk in more detail about how you used the house, its contents, and the activities that took place in the house as metaphor?

LMM: I believe the house was a metaphor for my parents’ desire to convey a certain image to the world, the image of four perfect children living inside a fancy-looking home, but it was only a façade. The objects and even the rooms themselves inside that house represented the chinks and flaws in that myth. They held secrets, scenes of disharmony and emotional abuse from a time in which men were valued more highly than women. Once I translated them, the objects became peepholes that allowed me to see past that myth into the reality of the world in which I was raised. Even the layout of the home allows the reader to gain some insight into what went on.

For example, the fact that such a large home didn’t have a family room, didn’t have an informal place for family members to relax, be themselves, or even be together. But it did have a formal living room and a formal dining room because those rooms were important to my parents in conveying a certain image of opulence.  Furthermore, all you had to know is that, within that house, each son had his own bedroom and his own bathroom, while the daughters shared a tiny bathroom with their parents, and a single bedroom for many years. The house reveals the patriarchy without having to say a word.

I think I mention this in the book, but I believe my mother would have been much happier if she’d had the opportunity to work, to have a career or a at least a job when the four of us were growing up. The time and circumstances in which she was born didn’t allow for that. She told me that, if she worked, it would be viewed as an insult to my father, evidence that he couldn’t adequately provide for his family. Even when they were newlyweds and my mother was pregnant with my oldest brother, she told the story of how they told the obstetrician my father made more than he did (even though the doctor used a sliding scale) because of their pride.

 

“Once I translated them, the objects became peepholes that allowed me to see past that myth into the reality of the world in which I was raised.” — Linda Murphy Marshall

 

But I believe that my mother writing down the personalized license plates she saw, keeping track of the clothes she ironed, were a way to get away from the Sisyphean tasks she performed day in, day out: cleaning, laundry, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc., like many women of her generation. It was a record of her time. But, if her life had been different, I can see her as a successful businesswoman. She loved to read intricate numismatic journals about trends in the sales of coins, and kept a close eye on the stock market, but these were “off the record” activities.

If asked if she was happy being a housewife and mother, though, not working outside the home, I’m sure my mother would have said she enjoyed it, another instance of her words not coinciding with her behavior or attitude. She comes close to confessing to some discontent in the interview the 1996 Missouri Historical Society conducted at their home, referring to the time my father was away, in Jefferson City, when he was in the Missouri legislature. This left her as a single parent much of the time, and there are hints—but just hints—that she wasn’t entirely happy with that arrangement.

MV: As a child you were unable to decipher your mother’s harsh and often unpredictable language—what you refer to as her private lexicon. Can you talk about the relationship between the idiosyncratic language of your family and your subsequent career as a linguist?

LMM: Beginning as a young child, I was fascinated by languages; Pig Latin was my first foray into using another language to communicate. I loved that people couldn’t understand me (or I believed they couldn’t). But languages played a dual role for me. On the one hand, I wanted to escape from my family’s scrutiny, their judgmental behavior toward me, be a mystery to them, the way they were to me. But, on the other hand, I spent endless hours trying to translate their words and behavior, to make sense of it all, particularly since what they said often didn’t fit with their actions. That meant I had to work that much harder to interpret the meaning behind their words.

Being quite literal, this was a particular challenge for me, since my mother rarely expressed herself in a straightforward manner that would clearly reveal her meaning. She cloaked her words in sarcasm, or chose not to talk to me at all, or said what she thought was appropriate to the situation instead of what she truly felt. Her silences were doubly painful, since this provided me with no clues as to what she was thinking.

I think I was so used to trying to decipher my family members’ words while simultaneously trying to protect who I was, that I naturally gravitated to foreign languages. I loved the fact that, when I spoke Spanish (the first foreign language I learned) I was out of their reach, beyond their ability to hurt me, or so I thought. How could they mock or downplay what they didn’t understand? One language then led to another and another, each one taking me further away from English.

MV: In addition to language, you were clearly influenced by music. I’d love to hear more about the language of music and its influence on you.

LMM: Music has always had a soothing effect on me, beginning when I was very young and heard my mother playing the soundtrack for Camelot or My Fair Lady after I went to bed. Listening to it made me feel calmer. In the same vein, playing the piano was therapeutic, but for different reasons. I always wanted to play loud, flashy pieces, many of which were probably beyond my skill level. In retrospect, I think it was a chance to release emotions I wasn’t encouraged to express otherwise.

As a female, I was expected to control my emotions, to be ladylike, “civil,” and soft-spoken, invisible, none of which came naturally to me. Playing the piano became a legitimate way to be loud and assertive and stand out in a crowd. My father liked to tell me I was a “money” player because, at my recitals, it was as though I became transformed, extroverted, and bold, the center of attention, not at all like when I practiced these same pieces at home.

Another way music played an important role in my life is that my piano teacher, even though he was only fifteen years older than me, was a father figure. I didn’t realize it at the time, not until I went back to Ivy Lodge, but he was like a father to me, or maybe a big brother.  He helped me figure out how to do long division problems when I was struggling with math in grade school. He went to all my performances at school, stood up in front of everyone to shout “Bravo!!” at the end of my performances, even when I was in middle school.

He believed in me, in my abilities, in my talent, and that helped me believe in myself. Playing the piano under his guidance was the first way I was able to feel any self-confidence, because his belief in me rubbed off. He even arranged to have me play on the local radio station and urged me to apply to Juilliard, as I write in my memoir, but Juilliard never happened. But I think his influence on me through music saved me in many ways.

MV: Once you and your siblings are grown your mother takes up metal detecting. She leaves the house in search of coins and treasures, while you search for, in your words, “…anything that is evidence of my parents’ love for me, for clues to the puzzle, translations of their behavior toward me.” Can you say more about the theme of searching, in your life, in your mother’s life, and in the book?

LMM: The difference between my searching and my mother’s is that mine was for intangible emotions, whereas my mother’s was for tangible things. I think my searching was rooted in my parents’ conscious or unconscious decision not to directly tell me how they felt about me. They didn’t tell me they were proud of me or acknowledge small or large accomplishments. When I did something they disapproved of, though, I got the message conveying their rejection of me.

Ironically, the more rejection they exhibited, the harder I tried to please them, but that usually backfired. For example, at some level, I must have thought that getting a Ph.D. at 27 would make them proud of me, yet, when I did, my mother often made disparaging remarks, subtle comments to the effect that, in her eyes, I’d attended an inferior college. Or when I was selected to Phi Beta Kappa, I thought that might change their minds, but it didn’t. I kept searching for the right recipe to find what I was looking for, but I never did. It was as though they were asking me in so many words, “Who do you think you are?” putting me in my place.

For different reasons, I think my mother was also searching, but for tangible things. As I wrote in my memoir, her favorite hobbies had to do with finding things that were buried, or even lost: using her metal detector, digging for arrowheads, and panning for gold. She was looking for treasures maybe to add luster to her life, a life filled for the most part with activities that centered around my father, my siblings and me, and taking care of the home.

MV: So many things are buried in your book—pets, treasures, secrets. Like an archeologist, you unearth these things for yourself as well as the reader, something you’d been trying to do since you were a little girl. Can you talk more about your role in the family as the child who tries to bring things into the light?

LMM: I never considered this concept before, about so many things being buried—literally or figuratively. I think my penchant as a young child for confessing major and minor infractions to my mother was evidence of my need to bring everything to light. It took so much energy to second guess everyone’s motivations, thoughts, and feelings. I wanted it all out in the open so it could be dealt with, but that ran counter to what I believe was my parents’ desire to project a certain image.

They wanted to be parents of a certain type of children, to hide any and everything distasteful, not just from public view, but even within our house. For instance, when I confided in my mother as a child and, later, as an adult, that I had issues with food (long before anyone was talking about eating disorders), this must not have fit in with her idea of who I was supposed to be. In both instances, she left the room, shut me down, so I was thrown back on myself. If you weren’t perfect, you had to at least pretend to be.

MV: Appearances play a big part in your childhood. Your mother’s clothing and svelte figure. Your father’s position in the community. The grand home with its impressive façade and foyer. Yet behind the veneer lay austerity, loneliness, and your desire to eat. You tell us, “The sweets tasted like love to me…” Is there more to tell about this experience?

LMM: My mother’s appearance was extremely important to her, perhaps the most important thing in her life, despite being such an intelligent, hard-working, and interesting woman. She was quick to criticize female friends who were even a few pounds overweight, even if they were kind, accomplished people otherwise And, as I say in the book, as people raised during the depression, I believe Ivy Lodge was how my parents could show the world that they were successful, had achieved the same level as some of their more affluent friends.

Even though I was slim until I was probably in my early 20s, I remember that I often turned to food for comfort. I knew at some level that my mother and father wouldn’t or couldn’t give me the support that I needed, and that eating something would, at least temporarily, taste like a hug from one of them might feel. But incidents like this occurred throughout my childhood, where I used food—mainly sweets—to give me what I thought I couldn’t find anywhere else: love.

MV: Your quest to understand the indecipherable language of your parents recalls this passage from Rainer Maria Rilke’s letter to a young poet: “I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue…”  Did writing this book help you love the questions of what remained unsolved in your heart? Did writing this book help you unlock rooms and translate foreign languages? How is the knowledge you gained useful now? 

LMM: I love that Rainer Maria Rilke quote and, yes, writing the book did help me love the questions of what remained, still remains, unsolved, yet it also helped me translate the language of the objects, the memories, and my parents. Prior to finishing my memoir, the word that best described my view of my parents and our relationship was probably “confusion.” It was a tangle of images and memories and, to use Rilke’s words, locked doors. And all roads led back to me as being the source of most of the difficulties in our relationship: if only I’d done/said such-and-such, -not- said/done such-and-such.

Writing [Ivy Lodge] allowed me to gain some insight into our complicated relationship, enabled me to have some access to the locked rooms, to a degree of closure. This knowledge is useful now in that, maybe for the first time in my life, I’ve been able to look at myself, at my life, without doing so against the backdrop of who they were and of who they wanted me to be, if that makes sense.

MV: Yes, this search for authenticity is a driving force for memoirists. George Saunders says, “…that a story is a system for the transfer of energy. Energy made in the early pages gets transferred along through the story, passed from section to section like a bucket of water headed for a fire, and the hope is that not a drop gets lost.” Did you feel this transfer of energy as you wrote?

LMM: Recently, I came across a quote from one of my books on translation. I don’t know who said it because I just copied it onto a scrap of paper inside the book, but it still resonates with me, and fits the George Saunders statement. The quote is as follows: “Translation is a negation of entropy… It imports new and alternative ways of being.”  I like to think that my memoir does that: I looked at a system—my family—and, using my memories and the objects in Ivy Lodge, I transferred that energy, those memories, until I had more clarity, at least as it pertained to my life.

MV: In the beautifully written epilogue, you let us know that your translation of your parents’ behavior remains incomplete and that like Walt Whitman, your parents are forever untranslatable, but that you aren’t. Did you come to this ending as you wrote the book, or did you always know where/how the book would end?

LMM: I did not know how the book would end; it was a journey I started in 2014, not knowing where it would take me, only that I had to follow its trail. Having said that, though, I came away from the ending having a much better understanding of who I am, after stripping away the filter of my parents’ attitude and idea of who I was (and wasn’t). I was able to finally peel myself away from their words, their feelings, their behavior toward me and look at myself more in isolation, insofar as that’s possible. Conversely, though, the Walt Whitman quote still holds: maybe I have a better idea of who they were, but it’s far from complete. They were complex, multi-dimensional people who carried their true feelings for me to the grave.

MV:  Can you name some memoirists who have influenced you and why?

LMM: Like many memoirists, I’m sure, I was strongly influenced by Mary Karr. I’ve read everything she has written, but began with Liar’s Club and was so struck by her fearlessness to tell her story. That fearlessness and her insistence on telling the unvarnished truth emboldened me to tell my own story.

Writing memoir, at least for me, is terrifying, and it gave me additional courage in reading what she so frankly revealed about herself and her family. I hope some of that quality rubbed off on me. Whenever you’re opening yourself, your life, up for public scrutiny, it’s daunting, especially when you’re writing a version of events that will come as a surprise to most people you know. So, I’ve tried to read memoirs by writers who have perhaps shown – in my opinion – exceptional courage in telling their stories. Melissa Febos is another writer who bares her soul in her beautiful writing, as is Natasha Trethewey.

When I read Jeanette Wall’s book, The Glass Castle, some of it reminded me of my own life, and I began reading it before I started writing my memoir. Jeanette Walls was living a life that differed from what she had known growing up, and I felt a kinship with her in that regard. People thought she was a certain person, but she had secrets.

Similarly, in Dani Shapiro’s memoir Inheritance, she learns as an adult that she wasn’t/isn’t who she thought she was after she takes a DNA test. Understandably, this has a profound effect on her. In my case, in writing my memoir and the discoveries I made along the way, I, too, learned that I wasn’t who I always thought I was—or who others thought I was—and that what I had believed to be true about my life, about my parents and siblings for decades, was riddled with holes, with inconsistencies, and even with lies.

MV: If you could go back in time and talk to the younger you, before you started Ivy Lodge, what would you say?

LMM: First of all, I would echo what Adrienne Brodeur said, not to worry about what others would think, and that I needed to write this memoir for myself, to let my truth be heard. I’ve spent so much time (months? years?) worrying about how my friends, family would react, how friends of my parents and family would react, especially because of the mythology surrounding my family, that it often stopped me in my tracks, made me second-guess my words.

Eventually, I found peace in the knowledge that I had meticulously searched my soul to tell my story and that others’ reaction to my story isn’t really my concern. But I wish I’d been familiar with another quote back when I began in 2014: “Others’ opinion of me is none of my business.” For those of us who have historically been people-pleasers, writing a memoir is particularly terrifying as you imagine all the potential naysayers ripping you, your work to shreds. I just wish I had come to these realizations earlier in the process.

Another quote I love is from Joan Didion: “I don’t know what I think till I write it down.” Her words resonate with me because writing my memoir was a journey and, every word, every page, every draft brought me closer to figuring out exactly what I -did- think, enabled me to look back at my childhood without using the filters of my parents. I discovered myself as I wrote.

MV: In a Writer’s Chronicle interview with Renee Olander, Mary Oliver said, “I never had any other notion than that the eye/I of the poem should be not the writer of the poem but the reader of the poem, and that was the point…I believe very much and always have that readers want poems that will bring them news of their lives, not news of the poet’s life. What messages do you hope your readers will receive from reading your book?

LMM: I agree wholeheartedly with this philosophy and hope my readers will not just learn about me but also about themselves in reading my memoir. Otherwise, my writing would exist in a vacuum. I hope my readers will come away from my book determined not to believe what others may say about who they are or should be, particularly if these are negative ideas friends/family/colleagues are promoting. Go on your own voyage of discovery and decide who you are, who you want to be; try to drop the filter.

A short example of how brainwashed I was: someone in my immediate family told me years ago that I had flat feet. I accepted it at face value, such an unimportant “fact,” until I mentioned it one day in front of my daughter’s friend, a dancer. She looked at me, surprised, and pointed out that my feet were not flat at all. I had completely accepted this other person’s assessment, without questioning it or his motivation. How many times do we do this? Someone tells us we’re such and such and we believe it. Don’t! Decide for yourself!

MV: I want to thank you for a wonderful conversation. In this memoir not only have you given yourself the gift of self-love, but you have also given your readers the opportunity to witness first-hand the role that writing can play in opening long-closed doors and unburdening ourselves of false narratives. What are you working on now?

LMM: I’ve written a second memoir. Fortunately, this took far less time to write, about three years, and it is basically a sequel to what happened after my childhood, although there are flashbacks to my childhood. Through the Window of Languages: A Memoir focuses on how my extensive traveling (primarily for work) served as a means to crystalizing my identity. A majority of the trips were taken in hazardous conditions, adding to the revelations I gained on them. In many ways, I had to go on physical trips (most of them to Africa) to continue to discover who I was.

I’m also putting my essays together (many already published; some not) in a book for future publication. I especially love writing essays and am excited about compiling a book of my favorites.

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me, Megan. You take such care with writers and their work, and your brilliant writing and thought-provoking, creative questions make us all shine.

Meet the Contributor

Headshot: Megan Vered

Megan Vered’s essays and interviews have been published in Kveller, The Rumpus, the Maine Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Writer’s Chronicle, among others. Her essay Requiem for a Lost Organ was long-listed for the Disquiet 2022 Literary Prize and she was a finalist for the Bellingham Review’s 2021 Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Megan lives in Marin County, where she leads local and international writing workshops and serves on the board of Heyday Books. Her memoir, A Dance to Remember, Confessions of a Medical Maid of Honor, is currently being considered for publication.

                                         

  2 comments for “INTERVIEW: Linda Murphy Marshall, Author of Ivy Lodge: A Memoir of Translation and Discovery

  1. Megan, your questions to Linda elicit deep self inquiry that ultimately lead to catharsis and change. Linda underwent lasting transformation in the act of boldly examining and dismantling her family home, and its layers of heavy emotional import. Brava for your keen ability to crawl into the hidden corners of your subject’s inner world, where the secrets and revelations live, and bring them out into stunning light!

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