“I’ve always been a writer,” said Neal Lemery. From his early days as editor of his High School newspaper to working in the governor’s office as a speech writer, and then as a lawyer and judge, Lemery has heard amazing stories and about many people’s life experiences. “I’d come home and write about it,” he said. “It was cathartic and helped to sort things out.” With encouragement from his wife, his first book, published in 2013, Mentoring Boys to Men: Climbing Their Own Mountains came from those journals and from his work as a volunteer at the Oregon Youth Authority. And the second book, Homegrown Tomatoes: Essays and Musings From My Garden was a sequel, and again, nonfiction.
His third book, and first of fiction, Neal Lemery’s new coming of age novel, Finding My Muse on Main Street, was recently published. “It was an interesting process,” commented Lemery. “Fiction allowed me the liberty to explore ideas and concepts in a more direct and honest way and I enjoyed doing it.”
The book explores the young creative spirit and the role of art in building community. Growing up on the Pacific Northwest coast, small town boy Jake Morgan wants to find himself and his purpose in life. With the help of his many friends along Main Street, he lights his artistic creativity on fire. Taking the lead, he forges a coalition of artists, movers and shakers to build a community and open an art gallery on Main Street. Along the way, lives are transformed, including his own, on his way to manhood. In this young adult novel, Jake discovers his own artistic gifts and dreams, and connects with others along Main Street, who are seeking their own artistic dreams and creativity. Together, they build a renewed community, healing old wounds and reinvigorating their lives. “I hope this book inspires people to explore their creativity,” said Lemery. “There is the opportunity to do that in a small town, freedom to explore the arts. I want to encourage people to do that,” he added. “This story shows the impacts of these small town connections.”
A recent review praised Finding My Muse on Main Street: “In this positive, uplifting, coming of age novel, a creative young man struggles to find his artistic self, with the help of the inhabitants of a small, coastal town. As he walks the path before him, he learns that almost all the people he knows have private, artistic lives which give them strength to endure the vagaries of life. The more he learns about and from them, the more each artist encourages him in his journey, the more he grows to know the path to himself involves making a place for the artists he knows where they can share with each other the art they create. The author shows how art can both forge connections and heal a broken soul, making it whole again, turning naysayers into enthusiasts of the creative spirit. I found myself cheering for the young man who cared enough for others to make his town a lovely place at the same time he was creating his own life.”
“There are lots of people with amazing stories,” said Lemery. “I’ve gotten so much from volunteering and mentoring, and want to get the word out about the benefits of listening by sharing these stories.” Lemery will hold a reading from his book during the downtown Tillamook monthly Art Walk, on Saturday, February 24 at the Art Accelerated gallery, 1906 Third Street, Tillamook, from 1 to 3 p.m.
Lemery, a retired judge and now a community volunteer, is the author of Mentoring Boys to Men: Climbing Their Own Mountains and Homegrown Tomatoes: Essays and Musings From My Garden. More information is available at http://neallemery.com
Finding My Muse on Main Street is also available at the Art Accelerated gallery and the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum, in Tillamook, and is available on Amazon, and coming soon to Another Read Through bookstore in Portland, Oregon.