by Tracey Hall
Posted: June 7, 2021
There is nothing like a good book to bring to the beach with you! This week Jersey Shore Scene is re-introducing our readers to our first 12 featured local writers. Please consider purchasing their books to support our local talent. Introducing our first featured author, Muriel Smith. When and how did you start writing? I’ve always loved writing from grammar school at St. Michael’s School in Union when we had to write essays in class. I first wrote for a newspaper assignment in 1957 when the Long Branch Daily Record asked me to write a feature story. I had been sending them notes on hospital auxiliary meetings I attended, and they liked my style. What do you like to write about the most? Everything! It’s an opportunity to express myself, to get my opinion out, to learn from the research it forces me to do, and to, for the most part, make others feel good. Local history and current political and police news are probably my favorites. What do you find to be the easiest and hardest thing about writing? There’s no difficult part to writing. The easiest is feeling the ideas and thoughts go from my head directly to my fingers on the computer, the most time-consuming part is the research it takes, whether it be to present a news story from all angles or the different versions of an incident in history. What writers do you most admire and why? My father, first and foremost. I apparently happily inherited his gene; he was a police and news reporter for the Newark Evening News until he died in 1945. I think everyone who can talk or express an opinion can write; it’s just finding an editor who likes your style. I also admire my oldest brother who also wrote for the Newark News until he died, and my unpublished son, Jimbo, who has far more talent in writing than I. How do you get your ideas for stories and what’s in the future for you in writing? As a newspaper reporter, my ideas come from the events happening and the public’s reactions to them. As a historian, I love both local and Revolutionary War history. I have never tried to write fiction because I believe too much has happened in reality to have to work to make things up for a story. I’m spending the Covid 19 shut-in time researching and writing another book about the people who have made a difference in Highlands over the centuries. Can you share a memorable experience you’ve had purely because you are a writer? Numerous experiences related to writing, but standouts were Capt. Joe Azzolina inviting me to go on the Battleship New Jersey when she was coming from Washington State to New Jersey to become the museum. I was with Governor Whitman and Capt. Azzolina on the ship at the Panama Canal. In the last four years, I also visited Cuba twice when a friend, Catherine Curtin, was a Red Bank Catholic High School student and she and another girl went to Cuba to play soccer with Cuban girls as a means of creating friendships. I accompanied the Middletown Police years ago when they arrested a so-called ‘witch’ and also met and began a friendship with another woman arrested as a “common scold.” I was at the White House to interview President Jimmy Carter and was photographed with him, and have met several Governors, Congressmen and movie and singing stars because I was “part of the Press.” Here’s how to order Muriel’s books: My latest book (of 4) is ” Hidden History of Monmouth County,” published by The History Press. It’s available at Barnes & Noble, Bayshore Pharmacy in Atlantic Highlands, and several historical societies as well as from me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (prices vary, I sell it for $20 including shipping) Two other books, “The Reporter and the Draft,” about the draft boards in NJ in WWII, and “I Know How to Grieve, I want to Learn How to Laugh,” my story on overcoming grief after my husband’s death 14 years ago (today, as a matter of fact, what a coincidence!) are self-published and available from me @ $10.00 each.