I live near a small upstate New York town, twenty minutes west of the Massachusetts Berkshires. It's still rural here, there are still farms and pastures and woodland. It's a good place to be most of the time. People know you around here, you have neighbors who are close enough to care, but not so close you can't skinny dip in your pond or bury a body in complete privacy. The weather is changeable, but it suits me. The fall brilliant, the winter pretty grim. Perfect for writing.
My two children are grown now, my daughter living in New York in a tiny apartment in the West Village, working at a museum; my son a new college grad, setting out for parts unknown. My husband owns and operates a local magazine and we have two small dogs, Rick and Delilah, frisky but old, with breath that could curl the hair of a lizard. They're the simple-minded children who grew up but didn't want to leave home. I'm grateful for that.
My backstory: I was born in an US Army hospital in Okinawa. When I was three we moved to Benghazi, Libya, and my brother and I went to Italian missionary schools. Five years later we were transferred to Mogadishu, in Somalia, on the Indian Ocean. Believe it or not, it was a sweet, sleepy little town in those days. There too we went to a small school run by Italian missionary nuns. In at seven a.m., out by noon. When I say nuns, most people roll their eyes, but I have nothing but loving memories of them all, Suor Paolita in particular. We learned the Italian national anthem, a real rabble rouser; at the final Si! We all stamped our feet. Very satisfying. I have to admit, I still don't understood some of the lyrics. Le porga la chioma? Something about giving Italy locks of your hair.
In Mogadishu, we had a wonderful collection of animalsa baboon, a monkey, a lynx, a gerenuk, a giant tortoise, two chickens and two dogs. And on the subject of wildlifemy brother and I got a terrible case of worms there and had to be taken to Nairobi, to the hospital. Once we were home and the parasites began leaving our systems, I remember calling my brother Eugene into the bathroom, saying, "look at the spaghetti!"
When I was ten we left Africa for good and moved to Rome, Italy. By then Eugene and I spoke fluent Italian and I went to the Sacred Heart at the top of the Spanish Stepsitchy blue wool dress, stiff, clip-on collar and mass twice a week, with gloves and veils. A different world.
A year later, I transferred to St. George's English School in Rome.
At nineteen, I moved to the States, and worked in a health food store on Mass. Ave. in Cambridge. Clueless about what to do with my life, I applied to the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown. Probably because it was something familiar. During my first month in Washington, I auditioned for a play on campus and fell in love with the theatre; I spent the rest of the year holed up in the black box, rehearsing or performing. By the end of the year I transferred to a theatre program in New York.
As an actor, I supported myself 'between engagements' as an interpreter for Italian manufacturers. I worked at trade shows, selling everything from gold jewelry to shoes, fabric, wine, silk ties and cheese. One company I worked for made hair products, permanent wave devices that they insisted the interpreters wear during the showtwo-foot high cones that looked like dunce caps.
Throughout all this, I did get some acting gigsin regional theatres in Oregon, Michigan and Massachusetts, in workshop productions in NYC. I shot a film called OVER THE EDGE in Colorado, Matt Dillon's first picture, which finally gave me my SAG card. Eventually, I had my first child and went back to school. I graduated from General Studies at Columbia with a degree in Literature/Writing, and soon after, we moved up here to the country. Within six months, we'd bought a lovely old building at auction from a bank. The next spring we opened a restaurant, the Blue Plate, which would later be the inspiration for my Abby Silvernale series. Three years after and ten years older, we sold it.
Since then, I've limited my food preparation to dinner, and focused on my writing.
Blue Plate painting: Roger Mason
Julia Pomeroy photo: John Gregory