Front Row: Ann Leary
Katie Hylén/Morning Productions
There’s an indelible lightness of being to Roxbury author ANN LEARY, 48. Since moving into an 1850 farmhouse roughly 12 years ago with her family (her husband of 21 years, actor Denis and two children: Jack, now 20, and Devin, 18) she’s written three books, worked as a volunteer EMT, started hosting her own radio show—“In House”—which is broadcast over WHDD in Sharon (the smallest National Public Radio affiliate in the U.S.) and raised at least four dogs and three horses.
This spring, she plans to begin rowing on Lake Waramaug (she’s trained all winter on a rowing machine her family gave her for Christmas) and working with the Literacy Volunteers of Greater Waterbury—to that end, she’ll also be special guest at a fundraiser the group is hosting March 6 at Carmen Anthony Fishhouse in Woodbury. “I’ve wanted to get involved with this organization for years,” she says. “Being a writer, literacy is a huge thing for me. And it requires only a few one-on-one hours each week, so you can be wonderfully rewarded by helping another person without investing a huge amount of time.”
Leary entered the literary world in 2004 with the memoir An Innocent, a Broad, which chronicled the aftermath of son Jack’s premature birth (at 2½ pounds) in London in 1990. “It’s really a fish-out-of-water story,” she says. “I was very young and in England, which really isn’t that foreign, but I was totally clueless. I was stuck there for six months and grew up in many ways. Until Jack was 5 I couldn’t tell the story without bursting into tears—then, I got past the trauma and started talking about the funny stuff. That’s when I was encouraged to write a book.”
She’s also written two novels, and her second—just completed—is set in a small town north of Boston, Mass., but many of the characters are based on the people she knows in Roxbury. “I moved around a lot as a child; this is the longest I’ve lived anywhere,” she says. “I love the way this community has people who have lived here for generations; they have deep roots. I see the effects of that on our EMT calls: If we take an older woman to the hospital, the question becomes, ‘Who will take care of her cat?’ or ‘Who will call her daughter?’ There‘s this extra sense of responsibility to one’s neighbor I’m constantly in awe of.”
Leary currently shares stories of her daily life on her blog, “Wicked Good Life” (annleary.com), which is studded with videos of her property and her pups—Gomer, Holly, Lulu and Daphne—that always earn enthusiastic comments from readers. LIkewise, her radio show focuses on interviewing “creative people in their homes about how their environment informs their work” (her guests have included Milos Forman, A.R. Gurney and Alice Hoffman). Though married to a “famous man,” she admits to being naive about celebrity. “A person will come up to us and tell Denis, ‘I’m a big fan,’ and I overengage,” she says. “I think it’s so nice of them to compliment him, so I’ll ask, ‘Where are you from? What do you do? Do you have kids?’ Denis is always telling me, ‘Leave the fans alone!’”
For info on Literacy Volunteers of Greater Waterbury’s fundraiser, March 6 at 1:30 p.m., call (203) 754-1164 or visit lvgwct.org.Front Row: Ann Leary