News & Reviews


7 Books to Diversify Your Reading List

October 20, 2017—"Contemporary discrimination against gay teachers rekindles an elderly art professor’s strong feelings of social justice, exposing her secret past as a member of the Nazi resistance."

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This Is How It Begins, A Novel

October 19, 2017—"In other hands, it is easy to imagine this story as an unwieldy Goldfinch-like brick of a novel. But Dempsey does not succumb to meandering prose or even particularly evocative imagery. The power of the story lies in its parable-like simplicity."

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Joan Dempsey, The TNB Self-Interview

October 10, 2017—"This is Fresh Air. I’m Terry Gross. My guest today is the acclaimed author, writing teacher and online entrepreneur whose debut novel, This Is How It Begins, is the best novel I’ve ever read in my entire life—

Stop it! That’s private!"

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Using Physicality to Bring Your Characters (And Your Fiction) to Life

October 9, 2017—Guest Post on The Writer's Dig. Brian Klems introduces the post: "One of the most common challenges writers face in the character development process is conveying personalities (even those of side characters) in a naturally complex and believable way. Success in this aspect can mean the difference between a two-dimensional story and an immersive experience. But what’s the best way to get to know your characters intimately enough to bring them to life? Here, Joan Dempsey dives into the heart of a critical element that can help you flesh out—no pun intended—your characters and enrich your novel."

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In Joan Dempsey’s debut, an art history professor faces secrets of past as a WWII resistance fighter

October 8, 2017—Review by Marae Hart. "'This Is How It Begins' is Joan Dempsey’s carefully detailed presentation of how quickly opposing views can escalate toward violence and how easily in a heated political environment a peaceful, well-established democracy can turn into an oppressive regime. Borrowing from the politics and experiences of Nazi-occupied Poland, the novel is a reminder and a warning of how closely the present is connected to the past, and therefore can be recreated in the future. Dempsey is an award-winning writer who lives in New Gloucester. In this, her debut novel, her talent is evident."

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We’re Not Past That Now: An Interview with Joan Dempsey

October 5, 2017—By Dawna Kemper for Fiction Writers Review. "Joan Dempsey’s debut novel This Is How It Begins (She Writes Press, 2017) is a powerful and moving exploration of a flashpoint in contemporary America: the organized efforts of the Christian right to advance 'religious freedom' laws in conflict with those who view such efforts as seeking to institutionalize bigotry. What’s striking about Joan’s handling of this volatile issue is her ability to depict the complexity of human nature on both sides, and how each camp feels fully invested and morally justified in their beliefs.

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Talking with Joan Dempsey, Author of This Is How It Begins

October 4, 2017—Interview by The Literate Quilter. "By sharing the story of Holocaust survivors whose gay grandchild loses his teaching position over his sexual orientation, Dempsey addresses relevant issues: How can conflicting belief systems learn to live together? What does it mean to be protected under the law?"

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Joan Dempsey Discusses Her Debut Novel — The Writing Coach Podcast #055

October 2, 2017—In episode #55 of The Writing Coach podcast with host Kevin T. Johns, writing instructor Joan Dempsey, who previously appeared in episode 38, returns to the show to discuss the launch of her debut novel, This Is How It Begins. The book is political literary fiction exploring the clash between religious freedom and gay rights, and it’s already getting rave reviews.

Listen to the full episode.

17 New Books About LGBT Families

September 28, 2017—By Desireé Guerrero. "This Is How It Begins by Joan Dempsey is a thought-provoking and timely novel that connects the horrors of our political past to the current cultural climate, giving new relevance to the old adage, 'Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.'

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A Novel for Our Times—Book Review and Author Interview

September 20, 2017—In her "I'd Rather Be Reading" column, Amy Canfield writes, " 'This Is How It Begins,' new this month from Maine author Joan Dempsey, is nothing if not timely.

"It is also an enticing read, well written and researched and with mindfully drawn characters. The novel is an empathetic dive into discordant factions from two eras that impact one family: the Polish Resistance during the Holocaust and, in the current day, the Christian right vs. gays."

Read the full review, and an interview with Joan Dempsey.

BUSHNELL ON BOOKS: 'This Is How It Begins'

August 24, 2017—Review from Bill Bushnell. “'This Is How It Begins' is award-winning Maine author Joan Dempsey’s timely, suspenseful and powerful exploration of the very real conflict between religious freedom and civil rights. Dempsey is clearly a talented writer, unafraid to thoughtfully address controversial issues like sexual orientation and intolerance ... "

This Is How It Begins, An Interview with Joan Dempsey

July 12, 2017—Interview at Pulse Blog by Kimberly Burnham, Poet & Brain Coach. "Kimberly Burnham: In your debut novel, THIS IS HOW IT BEGINS, you write with empathy about characters on both sides of the 'cultural divide'—those who support gay rights, and those who fear gay rights will infringe on religious freedom. Why so balanced?" ...

Maine Writers Joan Dempsey and Brian Evans-Jones Win Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award

New York, NY—May 19, 2017—Poets & Writers announced today that fiction writer Joan Dempsey and poet Brian Evans-Jones are the winners of the 2017 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. The prestigious award, which aims to provide promising writers a network for professional advancement, has helped to launch the careers of Sue Monk Kidd (The Invention of Wings, The Secret Life of Bees) ... and others. READ MORE ...

Room to Write

January, 2016—"... Fiction writer Joan Dempsey has transformed a utilitarian structure into a place where storylines may be convinced to gather themselves into works of literature. READ MORE ...