Most of the short stories in Anna Noyes’s first book, titled “Goodnight, Beautiful Women,” are set in Maine, the author’s home state. “That’s the landscape that I drew on naturally to write about childhood and coming of age,” Noyes said. “For one thing, I find just the physical landscape very evocative in a way that is sometimes quite dark and moody. These towns that aren’t prettified summer vacation towns, these are places I know really intimately.”
Growing up as a year-rounder in Sorrento, a town whose 250-ish winter population quadruples when the summer people arrive, Noyes came to understand that she had a foot in both worlds. “My grandparents were summer people,” she said, an identity that her parents reversed when moving there full-time when Noyes was just two.
“I think being on the outside of both those worlds really placed me in an observer position,” she said. Coming from a family of writers, editors, and journalists — one in which “there was a lot of dinner-table, table-pounding vivacious storytelling” — also helped lay the foundation for a literary life. “Pretty early on, I knew I wanted to write,” she said. “In eighth grade we had to do a job shadowing, and I wanted to shadow Stephen King, and he said no. I’ll never let him live it down if I ever meet him.”
As her debut collection illustrates, she writes from a place King would appreciate — she says she specializes in “dark tales that are sort of unexpectedly strange and twisty” — but it wasn’t initially easy for her to reach. An early writing teacher pushed her to stop protecting her characters so much. “That was a turning point; to think, what would break my heart?”
Noyes reads at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Brookline Booksmith.
Kate Tuttle, a writer and editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.