Maureen Morrissey had for years wanted to write a book about the stories of her family.
But raising her three children, teaching elementary school full-time for 37 years and having a husband with a business, there was little time and energy to indulge in a dream.
Last June, Morrissey retired from Hutchinson Elementary School in Pelham, where she spent the final 20 years of her career. She finally was able to write a novel based loosely on her family’s experiences while also incorporating her husband’s ancestors as well.
The result was “Woven: Six Stories. One Epic Journey,” which Morrissey self-published and released in December.
“My original idea when I was throwing around what I wanted to do with these stories, I didn’t want them to die with me,” said Morrissey, a 25-year Mount Kisco resident. “I have children, now I have grandchildren, I want them to know these stories.”
The stories had been in Morrissey’s head for years. The daughter of Holocaust survivors and refugees, she is a first-generation American. Initially, she thought about writing a memoir, but concluded that she didn’t have enough material to make it a strong enough read.
As someone who loves novels, Morrissey thought fictionalizing portions of the story to bring the larger message to light was crucial.
‘Woven’ tells her story through a young girl named Tessa, raised by her parents in 1970s New York City. She battles her own challenges as well as the demons of her parents.
Meanwhile, Cam looks to escape his own unhappy upbringing in the Midwest. His family’s story dates back to the mid-19th century during the time of Great Famine in Ireland.
Tessa and Cam find each other in a chance meeting, overcoming their circumstances and building a life together into the 21st century over a couple of generations despite each receiving grief from their families for marrying out of their faith.
“Some people who have read the book have said it’s kind of like a quintessential American story from that 20th century (perspective) of looking at how the kids in America grew up in the mid-1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, how their lives were affected by their past, but how they then took that and how they are now affecting the future generations,” Morrissey said.
It didn’t take Morrissey long to get started writing once she had the time. The day after retiring last June, she sat down and started cranking the story out, setting a five-day-a-week writing schedule for herself.
Morrissey acknowledged she was a bit impatient and decided to self-publish. She has left copies of ‘Woven’ at most of Westchester’s independent bookstores, along with getting the word out on social media.
“So I guess it’s trying to get people to read it and share it and talk about it,” Morrissey said. “I wasn’t looking for a hugely wide audience, but again, if it happens, I’ll be very happy. I certainly wasn’t looking to make it a high-paying second career. I really wrote it for myself and for my family. I’m hoping that people will read it and make some connection to it.”
Now that Morrissey has seen her first novel into print, she’s not planning to stop writing anytime soon. Morrissey is working on a new project, a historical novel, something she enjoys because of her love of history. While it’s a completely different story than ‘Woven,’ she hopes that her works can encourage people to get their stories out and preserve them for future generations.
“My biggest thing is I want people to think about their own history and to realize the importance of what their history is, that it’s people’s stories,” Morrissey said. “That’s what history is.”
“Woven: Six Stories. One Epic Journey” is also available at local independent bookstores as well as on Amazon.