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Mothers Who Write (Boston Globe Ideas Section)

ON MARCH 29, at the Cambridge Public Library, PEN New England hosted a conversation on “Mothers & Writing,” about the challenges and pleasures of writing while raising children. The discussion, moderated by novelist Heidi Pitlor, and featuring writers Lily King, Kim McLarin, Megan Marshall, and Claire Messud, was frank and wide-ranging, addressing everything from ambivalence about parenthood to tricks for getting work done, and the unheralded advantages of writing as a mother.

claire messud

What follows is a selection of highlights from the conversation, as observed by a note-taking audience member.

*    *    *

lily king

CLAIRE: One thing I “knew” growing up was that one mustn’t have children if one wanted to write. My husband wanted six children; I wanted none. Then a gynecologist told me I might have trouble because I had an oddly shaped uterus.

Tell me, “No” … then I immediately want to get pregnant…

LILY: My experience was like yours. I remember how anxiety-filled I was about trying to become a writer. I did want children—but way in the future.


Then a doctor told me I had a lot of endometriosis. I think I was probably pregnant within 24 hours.

CLAIRE: Sometimes it felt impossible with small kids.

I would think about writers who didn’t have children—how much they must be reading, the number of drafts they must be able to write … the amount of sleep they had!

           Click to see the rest of the piece here. Or click here to see the piece at the Boston Globe.

Also see Life as a New Mom Summed Up in a Cartoon

[BOOKS: Starling, On the Loose in Boston, On the Loose in Washington, DC, and On the Loose in Philadelphia]

On the Loose in Philadelphia (Children’s Book)

Philadelphia children's book

Cartoonist Sage Stossel created her “Find-the Animals” bestseller On the Loose in Boston in 2009, in which animals from Franklin Park Zoo escape and show up in settings from Fenway Park to Faneuil Hall. She followed it with On the Loose in Washington, D.C. in 2013, when the National Zoo’s animals got the same idea, and cavorted around our nation’s capital from the White House to Capitol Hill. Next stop? The City of Brotherly Love! Children will have hours of entertainment finding the Philadelphia Zoo animals in On the Loose in Philadelphia—whether a monkey at Independence Hall, a kangaroo at the art museum, or a hippopotamus at a Phillies game! Over 100 animals are hiding cleverly in favorite Philadelphia locations in this colorfully-illustrated rhyming picture book.

[Click here to buy the book.]

Also visit the On the Loose in Philadelphia web site for Philadelphia pictures to print and color, ideas for things to do with kids in Philadelphia, and more.

(Also see On the Loose in Boston and On the Loose in Washington, DC, or the graphic novel Starling.)

Boston’s Winter Education (Boston Globe Cartoon)

boston winter 2015, snow, schools, snowdays, teachers, homework, mbta, keolis, belichick, deflategate,  boston globe sage stossel
Click to see the rest of the cartoon.
Or click here to see the cartoon at the Boston Globe.

[BOOKS: Starling, On the Loose in Boston, On the Loose in Washington, DC, and On the Loose in Philadelphia]

The MBTA Takes a Personal Day

mbta, snowmageddon, beverly scott, breakdowns, february 2015, cartoon

Comically Speaking: Cartoon Exhibit at the Essex Art Center

comically speaking, cartoonists, art exhibit, essex art center, cartoons, illustrations, boston

               Comically Speaking: Illustrations and drawings by Don Mathias, David Sullivan,
                             Sage Stossel, Mark Parisi & John Klossner

                                               Jan 9 – March 6, 2015

(Pictured: John Klossner, Don Mathias, Mark Parisi, David Sullivan, and Sage Stossel; Photo via Don Mathias)

Sketches from the MIT Media Lab Breast Pump Hackathon

breast pump, mit media lab, hackathon, medela, lansinoh, ameda, mighty mom utility belt, second nature, io, women in science, engineering, nursing, breastfeeding latch, maternity bra, cartoon, sage stossel
Click to see the rest of Sketches from the MIT Breast Pump Hackathon.

Dispatch From the Home Front

postpartum, newborn baby, motherhood, colic, sleep deprivation, nursing, breastfeeding latch, swaddle, maternity bra, pacifier, cartoon, sage stossel
Click to see the rest of the cartoon.
Or click here to see “Life As A New Mom, Summed Up In A Cartoon” at Huffington Post Parents.

[BOOKS: Starling, On the Loose in Boston, On the Loose in Washington, DC, and On the Loose in Philadelphia]

A Conversation With Art Spiegelman (Boston Globe cartoon)

art spiegelman, comics, maus, new yorker, manga, anime, prose books, digital cartooning, wacom, photoshop, comics journalism, goya, cartooning, interview,  boston globe sage stossel
Click to see the rest of the cartoon.
Or click here to see the cartoon at the Boston Globe.

Casinos in Massachusetts (Boston Globe Cartoon)

casinos, massachusetts gaming commission, stephen crosby, caesars, wynn, revere, east boston, licences, repeal, boston globe, cartoon, sage stossel
Click to see the rest of the cartoon at the Boston Globe, or here.

Graphic Novel STARLING

graphic novel, starling, sage stossel, superhero comics, super heroine, amy, cartoon

“If Jane Austen had written this—and in an alternative universe, she could have—it might be called ‘Capes and Coffeebreaks’… The delightfully complicated and cannily crafted plot interweaves Amy’s romantic uncertainties with her super-heroic adventures… This whimsical romantic comedy injects welcome humor into the superhero genre… and will probably appeal more broadly to fans of Dilbert, too.” —Library Journal

Why Superheroes Still Can’t Have it All (Atlantic interview with Sage Stossel).

The Anti-Heroine (Harvard Magazine May-June 2014). “Starling” can handle thugs and palookas, but not daily life. By Craig Lambert

“A book straight out of the age of ‘New Girl,’ ‘Sex in the City,’ and ‘The United States of Tara,’ in which we are drawn to watch a female protagonist for her flaws or peculiarities, not in spite of them… [Starling] pokes intently at the glass ceiling that hangs, weirdly enough, over comics as well as other parts of our culture.” —The Boston Globe

“A winning story about overcoming adversity, finding oneself and even having a shot at achieving true love, all lovingly ladled out in a savvy, self-deprecating, droll, artfully humorous manner…”
UK Comics Review

“Humorous and touching… Three pages into the graphic novel and I was already hooked by Stossel’s heroine.” —The Retroist

“Hilarious and uplifting… Stossel’s soft washes of color and zippy dialogue make Starling more than just a superhero comic. Amy’s juggling of her family, personal and work lives echoes every modern woman’s struggle to have it all without letting anyone down.”
—Jaclyn Fulwood, Shelf Awareness (Starred review)

“Starling is an imaginative superhero with a unique take on the world… The situations she gets into only make you love her more.” —Games Fiends

“A fun read and a good bet for fans of Sex and the City and any young women in need of a superhero like themselves.” —

“I loved it… Reminds me of James Robinson’s masterpiece, Starman, about a reluctant hero taking on the job after his father retires and his brother is killed.” —Gene Ambaum, Unshelved

“A funny, intelligent and engaging superhero story … Utterly charming. Warmly recommended.” —Sembtext: Göran Semb

Interview with Sage Stossel at the Graphic Novel Reporter.

LA Times interview with Sage Stossel.

LitReactor: Ten Questions with Starling author Sage Stossel by Leah Rhyne.

Newsarama: STARLING: Sibling Creators & Their Anxiety-Filled Superheroine by Zack Smith.

Four Questions with Sage Stossel by Molly Parr.

“Hilarious… A realistic, relatable female superhero.”—Feminist Texican Reads

“Funny and lighthearted … a good read.” –

“A superhero comic for people who don’t read superhero comics … Rated teen and up, but it’s a good pick for adults, too.” –Geek Dad

“A terrific choice for readers searching for a low-key superhero comic and for DC fans (and Marvel fans) fed up with how their favorite superheroines have been treated.” –In Bed With Books

Comics Juice, Celebrating the Golden Age of Graphic Novels: Great Graphic Novels, Superheroes category

“Utterly engaging and entertaining…a fantastic book.” –Bookshots

Order the book from Amazon.