Arts & Entertainment Editor
MFA graduate, Julie Maloney, is taking her creative career in a new direction by publishing her first novel, “A Matter of Chance.”
Previously a professional dancer, artistic director and choreographer of Julie Maloney Dance Company in New York City, Maloney has made a life for herself that revolves around creativity.
“Without creativity in my life, I think I would be a puddle,” Maloney said. “I would be this little puddle in the corner of a room.”
Now, in 2018, Maloney is celebrating the 15th year of her nonprofit, “Women Reading Aloud,” which started with only 12 women sitting around her dining room table. The nonprofit offers writing workshops based on the Amherst Writers and Artists Method. Workshops, Maloney said, help writers of all levels to find their “authentic voice,” by designing a supportive and kind environment in which writers are pushed to their full creative potential.
Besides teaching workshops both nationally and internationally, Maloney is an avid writer of poetry, with a published book of poems entitled “Private Landscape.”
Yet, Maloney’s most recent achievement is her new book “A Matter of Chance,” which will be published on April 10 by SheWrites Press.
The psychological thriller tells the story of a single mother named Maddy Stewart, grieving over the loss of her kidnapped child. Spanning five years of Maddy’s life, a transformation takes place within her, in which the mother disregards the detective’s insistence on staying out of the investigation. After being confronted by the Russian mafia, Maddy must make moral decisions about how to move forward – should she save another child over her own?
The novel’s protagonist, Maddy Stewart, came to Maloney’s mind in 1999, during a writing prompt. She did not think much about the character until a few years ago, when she seriously began researching about international crime and kidnapping.
A major inspiration for “A Matter of Chance” came from Käthe Kollwitz, a German artist, who Maloney first learned about while scanning the shelves of the Morgan Library in New York City.
“Kollwitz, I would say, became the muse for me personally as I was writing the story,” she said.
The artist’s work usually featured series of mothers with children – feeding or grieving for them.
After discovering Kollwitz, Maloney studied the rest of her work, eventually taking her to one of the museums dedicated to the artist in Cologne, Germany. Maloney was looking for the end of “A Matter of Chance,” and her trip throughout Bavaria gave her that.
“Honestly, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life because her work is extraordinary,” Maloney said. “She is considered to be Germany’s most revered artist to this day.”
Besides the author’s visit to Germany, she also collected research through interviewing a former DEA agent in Brooklyn. She learned about the psychology of a kidnapper, how someone kidnaps a child out of the country and the workings of the Russian mafia in Brooklyn.
Without prior knowledge of international crime, Maloney said researching and understanding the inner workings was necessary when writing “A Matter of Chance.”
“When writing a novel, I have to make sure the reader believes this is real,” she said. “So, I have to tell the truth in the book.”
Maloney said she wanted to capture the grief and coping mechanisms of the mother, instead of the missing child. To do this, she wrote “A Matter of Chance” in first-person.
“What I love about the story is that it focuses on the mother,” Maloney said. “It focuses on her transformation.”
The author said writing the novel was a different experience from her go-to literary form – poetry – because of the length and details of the plot. However, Maloney said she is not like other writers who strategically outline every scene: instead she lets the story “unfold more organically.”
“It’s learning every single day how to find your way on the page; how to find your way through the story,” she said. “How do you connect all these turns that happen.”
Originally, “A Matter of Chance” was not intended as a psychological thriller, but the more Maloney wrote, the more it shifted to this genre.
Within the realm of a thriller, the book also centers on art, as the main character reconnects with painting to console her grief. Maloney said the novel has multiple complexities.
“The reader should expect to be drawn into the world of art; the reader will be drawn into the moral choices the character has to make,” she said.
“Thinking large, but starting small,” Maloney said – a piece of advice for all our current Spartans.
To buy a copy of “A Matter of Chance,” visit Amazon, Barnes and Noble or IndieBound. Follow Maloney’s work, and the upcoming sequel to “A Matter of Chance,” at https://www.juliemaloney.net/ and her nonprofit at http://www.womenreadingaloud.org/.