Lee Robertson won the 2011 Al Blanchard Award for her short story, “Prom Shoe on Nantasket Beach.” Her fiction has appeared in Thuglit (“Pink Champagne”), Absent Willow Review (“Emma Bovary”), Yellow Mama (“Doppelganger”), Powder Burn Flash (“Only the Lonely”) and Boston Literary Magazine (“Special”). She is working on her novels and maintains a blog at www.writerleerobertson.wordpress.com.
Lee, your Al Blanchard Award winning story, “Prom Shoe on Nantasket Beach” takes place in and around the old Paragon Park. What inspired you about this setting?
Actually, the story began as an essay I intended to submit to The Southern Review’s “Americana” submission call. The guidelines asked for the “rhinestoned, circus towns, tourist traps, ticket stubs, bingo halls, time capsules, carousels” etc. I immediately thought of Paragon Park. What could be more American than a vintage, seaside amusement park? I wrote the essay (this is where I poured in all my personal memories of the park, our favorite place to go when we were kids) but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with it. It lacked spark. I put a note to myself at the bottom that it “might be a story” and set it aside.
Around the same time, I was working on a science fiction poem I intended to submit to Strange Horizons. It centered on a boy and his two siblings on a bizarre beach, facing strange and threatening creatures. That didn’t quite pan out either, though I still like it.
One night I went out with friends and Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” came on. Suddenly it all came together. A new story was born.
What intrigues me about Paragon Park as a setting is simply the fact that it’s gone. Vanished. The carousel is still there.
You’re a New Englander who currently lives abroad. How does that vantage point affect your fiction?
I love where I live but I will always miss New England. New England is in my bones. My setting of stories there comes from a longing for the place. This longing probably shows in the writing. It’s a wistful feeling. New England has a magic that never lets you go.
Perhaps living far away also sharpens my focus. Who knows.
What are you working on now?
I just finished a longer short story that I’m quite fond of. I’m not sure yet where I will submit it. It’s kind of eccentric and might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
And then there are my novels. They’re coming along. I don’t want to rush them. However, the first one (which takes place on Cape Cod) is just about as finished as it will ever be.