by Roger Zotti
This was an exciting and rewarding summer for the Preston Public Library. It hosted three local writers – Amanda Marrone, Douglas Clegg, and Allan G. Johnson – as part of the 2010 CT Authors Trail. When he spoke at Preston in July, Doug discussed his books, answered questions about writing, and asked the audience questions about its writing and reading experiences.
In a recent interview, Doug Clegg said the reissued Neverland – first published in 1991 – is “a southern gothic set on the fictional Gull Island, Georgia, in the 1960s. Two families come together at their summer ancestral house with the grandmother-matriarch.” Before long family secrets and conflicts force two cousins to journey into the woods, where they find an old shack and turn it into their clubhouse. “They name it Neverland,” he continued, “because it’s where they’ve been told never to go.”
Of course, there’s a reason why it’s “a forbidden place. If I tell more, there’d be no reason to open the book … Neverland has a supernatural edge that grows into brooding horror.” It’s worth noting that Doug spent a lot of his youth on an island off the coast of Georgia, similar to the one he writes about in Neverland.
The author of over twenty-five books, Doug said he writes “for the same reason I breathe: It’s part of my nature and my life and keeps me alive. Writing has saved me again and again – since I was seven or eight years old. It carried me through rough as well as good years.” And it’s always challenging. He continued: “If the novel I’m working on now isn’t tougher for me to write than the one before, I’m doing it wrong.”
As a youngster, Doug rarely talked about his writing and later, when in college, only few people knew he wanted to be a writer: “By the time I sent off my first novel – I was in my 20′s – I wasn’t sure if I’d be a professional writer or not.” But Doug’s huge talent couldn’t be ignored. Recognizing his powerful imagination, a major publisher accepted his first book and since then “I’ve been making a living writing for more than twenty years.”
A New York Times best-selling author, what Doug finds most interesting about writing is how “it begins with an impulse to make something from the raw material of imagination.” More, he hopes readers take away from his books “a story. If I’m lucky, it’ll be a great story. Maybe some scares. I spend my adult life creating stories with the goal of engaging the reader until the last page.”
When Doug isn’t writing, he travels, canoes, bikes “and hangs out with friends or at home.” He’s also an animal rescue advocate. The pets he has are “all rescues” and he encourages people looking for pets “to first go to animal rescue groups, such as the CT Humane Society and its local pounds and animal shelters. The best animals I’ve ever known have come from these places – and the people who run them deserve support.”