Congratulations to the winner of the sbr martin giveaway—Jaime Bentz, of Greensburg, Pennsylvania!
No, Jamie will not be receiving sbr martin as her prize, but rather will receive an inscribed paperback edition of my first novel, “in wake of water,” along with a limited-print promotional bookmark and handwritten letter of appreciation from yours truly.
Since I wanted to further acknowledge Jaime and get some reader input on hot topics, I also decided to ask her to brainstorm with me, to offer a suggestion for the subject matter of my forthcoming guest post here on dzsreviews. And I couldn’t be more pleased with what Jaime came up with! It’s something very near and dear to my heart.
Jaime proposed the following: “How about something about the ‘burgh and how it has influenced you and/or your writing?”
So, Jaime, here goes it:
Pittsburgh Poise & Presence: A Peek at the Particulars of “pig”
One Yinzer’s Exploration of the Power of Pittsburgh—Beyond Alliteration
by sbr martin
There’s a song I remember learning in elementary school, the refrain of which went something like this: “Pittsburgh is a jolly old town. … Pittsburgh. … Three rivers meet at the Point downtown. … Pittsburgh.” This tune is still caught in my head some 20 years after I first heard it; and, while the lyrics have not changed, they’ve taken on an additional, very personal meaning.
I was bred, born, and raised in Pittsburgh, where I continue to live and work. Every time I end up at the Point, or hear comment of the Three Rivers meeting, I am reminded of that little ditty from grade school.
But it seems to me that this song has a newfound importance in my life these days. I celebrate Pittsburgh not only as a place of the convergence of three distinct rivers, but also as the place of the convergence of three distinct talents, of which I am one.
My most recent novel, “pig,” features cover art by Jenn Wertz, a Pittsburgh musician/artist best known for being an original member of multi-platinum recording artists Rusted Root, also based out of Pittsburgh. Though Wertz’s cover piece, “Catwoman,” was in her portfolio long before we made any cover art arrangements, the work is so perfectly fitted to my novel. It seems as if the two were created for each other, though neither was predicated upon the existence of the other.
“Pig” was published by The Artists’ Orchard, LLC, a Pittsburgh-based indie microhouse in its toddler years. Behind The Artists’ Orchard is head honcho Sherry Linger Kaier, whose hard work and skill brought “pig” to its current commercial format.
Like the Three Rivers, Wertz, Kaier, and I are the Three Talents, who joined forces to generate something unique and memorable, something that flowed together in a natural, seamless manner.
And the Pittsburgh presence doesn’t stop there!
Author photography for “pig” was provided by PicChick Photography by Lizzy Bittner, a Pittsburgh gal who I’ve known for the majority of my life. Bittner also provided cover and author photography for my first book, “in wake of water.”
Without the talent of these Pittsburgh geniuses, “pig” would not be all that it is. True, the story would be the same, but the phenomenal final product would be fundamentally different. It wouldn’t have such cutting edge art, such meticulous publishing, and such vivid photography. It would not have the legacy of Pittsburgh talent permeating its full body; nor would it stand as a symbol of my integrity as a Pittsburgh artist supporting other Pittsburgh artists.
There’s also a little bit of Pittsburgh in the pages of “pig.” The story itself is set in Pittsburgh, though I so set it mostly out of convenience. I wanted the story to focus on the story—on the unnerving, yet inspiring, fictional account of domestic abuse, sexuality, reflection, and loss that unravels—and not so much on the location that serves as the backdrop. I, therefore, did not want to exhaust effort and page space making up a fictitious city. Pittsburgh was familiar. I didn’t have to think about what the streets looked like, or with what they were paved. It came to me as a matter of instinct. Use of the city name was more easily typed, more fully embraced, than any other city name I could have ever come up with.
Since I selected Pittsburgh as the setting, I tossed the word “yinzer” in there for good measure. Also, I reference a jitney in my tome—which many locals may be shocked to learn is actually a regional term.
And, hey, while we’re at it, let’s not overlook another way Pittsburgh has influenced my work. Allow me to reiterate: I was bred, born, and raised in Pittsburgh, where I continue to live and work. For me, one of the benefits of being raised in Pittsburgh was taking advantage of a few of the outstanding academic institutions the ‘burgh has to offer.
I was awarded the Marjorie A. Tilley Scholarship to The Ellis School, where I received an excellent high school education that would well prepare me for my college studies at the University of Pittsburgh and, later, for my juris doctorate studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. From each of these fabulous, globally-recognized schools, I gleaned countless skills, facts, opinions, experiences, and other gifts which indubitably shaped my writing style and contributed to my creativity basin. It should come as no surprise that my Pittsburgh job history could likewise be credited with nurturing my evolution as a wordsmith.
So how’s all that for the presence of Pittsburgh in my writing!
Now if only I could’ve found a way to incorporate the Steelers into my fiction… Oh well, there’s always next time, right?