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Author digs deep during book reading

MILLBROOK — “Ideas for the stories in the ‘Cracks in the Earth’ collection came to me like wildflowers in the gardens we planted after I moved to Dutchess County,” Cynthia Link told the audience during her author talk at the Merritt Bookstore. “I didn’t intend to write. I wasn’t thinking about pioneer ancestors. Having lived on South Dakota farms, Dutchess County didn’t even strike me as all that rural. But as I’d plant and weed and move rocks, of course, because it is Dutchess County, the opening lines of rural stories came to me like a voice in my ear.”On Saturday, Jan. 28, Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook hosted Link for a reading from her short story collection inspired by her pioneer roots in South Dakota. Link read from her fictional short story collection, “Cracks in the Earth.” “The collection is a nontraditional saga of a homesteader’s lineage, each indelibly imprinted by the willful land,” according to Merritt Bookstore publicity.“I write about people living in the rural areas of South Dakota and Nebraska,” Link said. “In this saga I wrote that they are in some way related to descendants from the original pioneers. It’s really about the way the land impacts them. There are ones seduced back to the land, the ones who are maybe not suitable for the land and then the ones who embrace a different sort of process with the land that it follows through.”Link uses powerful imagery to describe farming in rural South Dakota and Nebraska. Although her stories are fictional, she said she’s inspired by her great-grandparents, who were homesteaders. Link used photographs, post cards, family documents and stories told to her about her family history as a way to understand the way of life for those she wrote about. At the beginning of her saga she describes a family in 1896. Link details the experiences of pioneers whose livelihood depended on the land they farmed. She also brings the landscape of South Dakota and Nebraska into the story.“It is the type of land that when you see it you just want to weep,” said Link. “It’s so beautiful, and it’s been kept pretty much as it was.”Link has lived in Pleasant Valley with her husband since 1996. Link didn’t start getting serious about writing until moving to Dutchess County. She said that 1998 is when she really began to stay up all night and write. Before moving to Pleasant Valley and becoming a writer Link had a career in fashion. Link worked as a fashion coordinator and director for Nordstrom, and as a freelance producer for herself and for an Italian designer. However, after making the switch to become a writer she has written 50 short stories, eight plays in various stages of completion and the beginning of a novella. Link is also a founding member of the Brewster Round Table for writers as well as serving as a juror for the Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award. After Link’s reading at the bookstore there was a question and answer session about her work. A preview booklet of “Cracks in the Earth” was also available for $5. People who came to see Link read said they were intrigued and highly impressed by her work. Merritt Bookstore has an impressive history of author talks. Upcoming events at the Merritt Bookstore include a reading by Peter McCarty and “The Monster Returns” on Friday, Feb. 17 at 10 a.m., as well as a reading by notable photographer Annie Leibovitz (time and date to be announced). For more information about Merritt Bookstore and its events visit www.merrittbooks.com.

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