The personal journey of a Fresno woman chronicled in a new book

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  • Lucy Malenke, who writes as Lucy Bryan, has published her first book through Homebound Publications.
  • The collection of essays serves as a memory and covers a period of 10 years. Some of the trials are taking place in Coshocton County.
  • Malenke divides her time between Coshocton and Virginia where she teaches writing and James Madison University.
  • Malenke is working on a fictional novel set in a small Mennonite community that she hopes to complete this summer.

FRESNO – Moving to Coshocton and being part of the local community is part of a personal journey that a Fresno woman has chronicled in a new collection of essays.

Lucy Malenke, who writes as Lucy Bryan, recently published “In Between Places: A Memoir in Essays” via Homebound Publications. Some pieces are new, others have already been published in literary journals and journals. There are 11 trials in total; two essays and the chapter on the recognition of new lands. It is his first book.

“The collection is thematically linked and follows a 10-year journey. It’s sort of the first time they’ve all come together,” she said. “It was really scary bringing them into the world, because they are so personal.”

Malenke said the writings began in her late twenties as she dealt with a crumbling marriage, the death of her father and the upheaval of her faith. She eventually healed, remarried a second time and welcomed her first child. These elements are sprinkled with trips from Yosemite National Park to Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia. A couple takes place in Coshocton County.

“I felt very lost and didn’t really know who I was. I got out. I’ve always loved the outdoors and been a big hiker and backpacker, but it went from kind of past -time in a way of healing,” she says. “I spent a lot of time hiking and hiking and then writing about those places and myself. This collection of essays is really about me finding out who I am and who I wanted to be after going through some really tough stuff.”

The book cover of "between places."

Malenke divides her time between Coshocton and James Madison University in Virginia, where she teaches writing. His works have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and listed as Outstanding in “America’s Best Essays”.

She knows that an essay collection is a tough sell, so she had to really look for a suitable publisher while still curating what she had written and putting it together in the right way.

“I pitched it to a few small presses for a few years and got positive feedback,” she said. “I found Homebound Publications and read the description of what they were interested in. They were looking for titles that focus on the intersection of the natural landscape and the interior landscape. That’s exactly what I write. ”

As the collection is all about how place informs about who one is, she said. Coshocton is very important to her and she started coming here in 2011 when she was dating her current husband.

“Over the past decade, this is a place that I’ve come to call home. I’m grateful for this place as I bring this book into the world, because I’ve written so much here,” said- she declared. “I really feel like this is my home and it’s my home. I’m so grateful to this community.”

Malenke is working on a fictional novel which she hopes to complete this summer. It takes place in a small Mennonite community and revolves around a woman who agrees to be a surrogate mother for her sister and brother-in-law. The community is also dealing with the impact of a deep injection well disposing of fracking waste.

“It’s a story about home, community, and the tension between personal independence and feeling grounded,” she said.

“In Between Places” is available on Bookshop.org and Amazon.com. An audio version of the book read by Malenke is available on Audible. She will give a reading and book signing at 7 p.m. on August 7 at the Wooly Pig Farm Brewery, 23631 Township Road 167, Fresno.

Leonard Hayhurst is community content coordinator and generalist reporter for the Coshocton Tribune with nearly 15 years of local journalism experience and multiple awards from the Ohio Associated Press. He can be reached at 740-295-3417 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @llhayhurst.

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