Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Peggy McFarland - Pour Me Another Round of Peg

Nashua, New Hampshire, U.S.A.
Blogging at Eldritch Way 

I had an aunt named Peggy. Her full name was Aunt Peggy. She was gorgeous.
Aunt Peggy married my Uncle Charles when she was still a teenager. I wasn't much younger. Was she knocked up? Maybe. Who knows. I was like eight at the time and still thought babies came from storks. It was the first wedding I remember attending so I will always have a soft spot for Peg, even though she didn't have a soft enough spot for Chaz.
Because of Aunt Peggy I have a soft spot for Peggy McFarland. There aren't a lot of dames in the world named Peg. Sure, there are plenty of one-legged men with that name, but not a lot of dames. You could say that any woman with that name would be a round peg in a square hole, unless she was really thin, then she'd be a matchstick.
Peg McFarland, or pegjet as she calls herself on her blog, Eldritch Way, hasn't got a lot of meat on her bones. But muscle, man, have you seen her guns? She works in the hospitality business and I think she's poured enough beer to give the governor of California a run for his pecs. (Peg's pecs… has a ring to it.)
Muscles don't impress me much (unless they're on some hunky stud muffin) – not as much as good writing. And Peggy is a fine writer. I imagine if she can pour beer half as good as she can write, all the good people in the state of New Hampshire will be growing potbellies or, as we call them in Canada, Molson muscle.
Like many of the people who write #fridayflash week after week, Peggy is a bit of a superhero, juggling her lives as a wife, mother and restaurant manager, somehow doing all that and coming up with smashing stories that reverberate with readers like myself all over the world. She's been a radio disc jockey, a real estate agent, a bank teller and a cleaning woman but she's always known how to turn a phrase.
She writes for the same reason most of us do. "Because I can? I've never thought about the why; I just do it."
And does it remarkably well. I've been a fan of Peggy McFarland since I first saw her flash stories. 
"Superpower [the story she submitted for American Weeks] is a special story to me because it is the first acceptance I received after the encouragement of Rob McEvily's Six Sentences. This story is the result of trying to get my son to practice his piano, and wondering about practicing different talents, That led to wondering if every talent is innate, or if an event creates one, which brought me to superpowers.
"Then," she says, "I just got silly and had fun with it."
To me, one of the most interesting things about American Weeks was seeing how many different types of stories writers were sending, most of them with some kind of iconic Americanism. Peg's story about superheroes is classic Americana. The inventor of Superman may have been a Canadian but it was an American comic book company that made him a household name. I asked Peg what's up with that, anyway?
"In my humble opinion, Americans hold the superhero idea so dear because we call ourselves a superpower in the world arena, and we believe others think of us this way too. No, we're not conceited; just convinced. (smile) This question needs an essay to answer it.
 "Instead of an essay, I'll try to give just a few reasons why this could be true. We live in a society that teaches the individual is special; one person can make a difference; be a hero. We want to believe in magic, that a good deed can transcend, that out of tragedy something truly superior will emerge. Superheroes could be considered the modern equivalent to Greek (or Roman, or Norse, or...) Gods, if you will. For Americans, Superheroes give us hope and blueprints on how to be "bigger and better" humans; which may be a different motivation than past mythologies, but we Americans have to put our own spin on everything. You Canadians are used to that, right?"
Um, perhaps… *chuckling*
So, Mizz Peggy, if you could be a superhero, who would you be? 
"ANY female superhero!" she says. "Have you seen their figures? To be honest, most of my exposure to superheroes has been movies. The image I love the most is Michelle Pfeiffer as Cat Woman, fluid and sexy and controlled with her whip. I still want to be that look. So, yeah, I'm a typical girl and wanna look good, in painted-on spandex and using a whip!"
Woo-hoo, Mizz Peggy! Do I know me some fellahs that would be interested in dialling you up! Oh, but that's a different website.. never mind…
"I never read comics as a girl. I led a sheltered life. Growing up I read Laura Ingalls Wilder, the whole Little House on the Prairie series; all eight Little Women books by Louis May Alcott; My Side of the Mountain was my favourite book in fourth grade; The Other Side of the Mountain had everything: love story, history the colonies of America and, more specifically, New Hamshire! But my favourite book growing up was The Man Without A Face, which most people didn't know about until Mel Gibson made the movie. Others include One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, To Kill A Mockingbird and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn … wow, I did read many American authors."
As an adult she lists three favourite American-penned authors.
Lisey's Story by Stephen King
"This is my favourite Stephen King story but it is more about love and special powers and that there are evil people in the world but love and courage conquers anything; yet there will be pain (American beliefs, if you will). Of course, almost every book by him portrays American frailties and failings as well as courage and optimism in the human spirit."
Peace Like A River by Leif Enger
"This story is about faith and family, set in middle, rural America. Again, the power of love, but in this one it's love towards a maker and family and pure faith and strength of character fix the problems. This book should be special to Americans, because it portrays 'doing what you believe' but that doesn't mean there won't be consequences, and being strong enough to accept the results."
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
"A quirky, strong, purposeful boy who changes the lives of everyone he touches and becomes a soldier and a hero, but not in the way he expects. Owen is the little guy who does great things."
I love A Prayer for Owen Meany. One of my favourite books ever and, I think, partially set in Toronto if I remember correctly. Also love Lisey's Story (although my favourite Stephen King has to be Bag of Bones… I'm jest saying').
Another author she doesn't mention, who I really enjoy, is named Peggy McFarland. She writes straight from the hip, with power and a kind of superheroic natural beauty. She turns my head every time I set eyes on her and I'm dead straight sober. Imagine how fine her stories will seem when I order myself a pitcher of draft from that well-muscled barkeep wearing the black spandex and the sexy grin.
by Peggy McFarland
Dick punched Jack in the jaw hard enough that Jack spun around, lost his balance and hit his noggin on the pavement, a process that cost Jack a full eighty-nine seconds of his life.  Jack blinked at the nervous Dick-face in his vision and remembered the exchange of ninety seconds ago.  Rage filled his mind.  Jack pictured Dick with a black eye and a bloody mouth and before the image fully formed, Dick's hands clenched into fists.  The right fist shot up and walloped Dick's own eye socket while the left fist clobbered his own kisser, knocking out both front teeth.   
Cool, guess Dick did me a favor, Jack thought.  I've got a superpower, which was his only viable conclusion since most of his education was garnered from the television screen.  Jack felt wonder and a bit lightheaded.  He could revenge everyone who told him he was a no-good-high-school-drop-out.  He could redeem himself, fight evil forces and become a hero.  No, make that a Superhero, capital S, thank you.  His mind skills would not only stop criminals but force them to punish themselves.  Yes!  He now had purpose.
Jack hoisted himself off the pavement, ignored the dizziness, spat on the moaning Dick and stepped into the street directly in the path of a speeding city bus.  No problem.  He would test this new Superpower.  With his mind, he would bring the looming city transport to a screeching halt a mere inch from his nose, just like in the movies.  Power coursed through his veins.  Excitement filled his brain.  Pride allowed him to stand straight and tall, arms extended, jacket billowing with the oncoming rush of wind.  Yes, Jack thought, the portrait of a Superhero, and hoped Dick paid attention.  Every Superhero needed one awed-witness.  Jack faced the vehicle and concentrated.  
Tires did not screech.  Through the bug-eyed windshield, Jack saw the bus driver mouth, "Move it, jackass."  Characters on television, when confronted with danger, said time moved in slow motion.  Or maybe slowing time was a Superpower bonus.  
Jack's life did not flash before his eyes, but every Superhero movie he ever watched did.  A bead of sweat blinded his right eye.  A warm liquid washed over his right leg.  The acrid reek of urine mixed with car exhaust tang.  Horror replaced excitement as he learned a Super-lesson.  
New skills could not be used on command; a trigger was necessary.  The trigger released the power plus practice -- tons and tons of practice -- allowed eventual control and mastery until the Superpower truly transformed the individual into a Superhero.  Jack focused harder.  The bus wobbled… but no screech.  The millisecond before impact, Jack experienced fright, resignation, embarrassment, regret, even disappointment, but he did not summon rage.  He heard a giggle from the pavement.  
Aw, jeez, Dick saw I peed my pa….

This one's for you, barkeep. Just the thing to listen to at the end of a long, boozy night.
(The 'evil ones' wouldn't let me embed this... no worries, it's worth the journey.)


  1. I love Peg's work. She is an amazing writer. I gape when I read her stories in awe.

  2. Nice to get to know Miss Peggy better. Great tribute and interview, Cathy.

    And Peg, a great story. Poor, foolish man and his magical thinking. The last line was awesome. Really enjoyed this one.

  3. It'll be sad to see the American Weeks come to an end, and it would be great to see Cathy introduce everyone in the FridayFlash group.

    Peggy, I promise to sit up and pay closer attention to your work:

    "Jack's life did not flash before his eyes, but every Superhero movie he ever watched did. A bead of sweat blinded his right eye. A warm liquid washed over his right leg. The acrid reek of urine mixed with car exhaust tang. Horror replaced excitement as he learned a Super-lesson."

    -That's a really good paragraph.

  4. I first came across Peggy's work at Six Sentences and have long admired her work. I'm also really glad, Cathy, that you did such a wonderful job (as usual) with her profile/interview (you just may have a second career as a features writer at a paper. I see them every day and you have the goods)

  5. What you didn't mention was Pegjet's versatility -- she specializes in horror, but she can make the hardest man cry with her words, too. Anyways, been a fan for, oh... years, since I started writing in 2006 and stumbled on Peggy's words at 6S.

    Great story, and great interview. Thanks for the profile. Peace...

  6. I recently linked to Peggy's blog through another Fridayflash writer...and I'm glad that I did. A great little story and another example of her talent.

  7. I have often read Peg's stuff thanks for the insight into her life.

    Great interview style...my first time here by way of Conversations from land's edge

  8. Good to see that Peg is as wonderful as I imagined!

    Loved the story. What Jack should have realized is that the gods tend to reward hubris the best way they know how. :)

  9. Thank you for the wonderful comments, everyone.

    Cathy, thank you so much for including me and for making me sound and look good. You rock.

    Course, when you asked for American writers, I had to participate. pegjet is short for Peggy Jette, Jette being my maiden name--very french canadian. My heritage is Canadian, through and through, eh. And I eat gorton.

  10. pegjet is always one of the coolest reads of the week for me, always a surprise, never a disappointment she takes an approach to her work that always pays off for the reader, nice take here on all that is peggy. Thx to you both.

  11. Cool interview! Peggy has a mad imagination, confidence, and a sassy not putting up with bull sh*t quality about her. This shines through in her work. Gotta love that woman!

  12. Peggy is not only a effing amazing writer, she is a wonderful supporter of those around her, who also practice the art of putting words into some kind of hopefully meaningful way. I'm fairly sure she could take that really bad sentence and guide me into making it viable.

    I think at this point, I should stop.. and simply say, Peggy will be a well known name..and that time isn't too far in the future.

  13. My superpower is recognizing other superpowers. I see you Peggy.

  14. Peggy and Cathy this was a righteous interview.
    I have known that Peggy has super powers for at leat a year.

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