Born to be a writer Salisbury has no plan to stop soon

For Jessie Salisbury, local writer and historian of Lyndeborough, nearly everything is interesting, unless of course it’s city council meetings. But even the uninteresting things are worth writing about. In Jessie’s view, writing is as much about documentation as it is about telling an interesting story.

Jessie has been writing since the third grade when she lived near Anchorage, Alaska in a small seaside town that was destroyed in the 1964 earthquake. She moved when she was twelve to Lyndeboro, New Hampshire in 1947. Since then, she’s published sixteen romance novels through Soulmate Publishing, as well as co-written a history of Lyndeborough, New Hampshire. Jessie has written and continues to write for the Nashua Telegraph, the Monadnock Ledger, and The Cabinet. In her own words, she’s “always written something.”

During her career in journalism, she’s written a travel column documenting her road trips across the States, a history column focusing on the local history of Lyndeborough and Wilton, and countless necessary, though tiresome articles covering town politics. But even during a three-hour city council meeting, Jessie finds something that piques her interest.

In the forty or more years of Jessie’s career, journalism has undergone significant changes. Most notable of course, was the dot com bubble burst, but there are more subtle changes that have affected small-town newspapers. Jessie described how The Cabinet for Milford used to focus on local news and small-town gossip but has recently shifted to imitate big-city newspapers. Except, of course, it isn’t a big city newspaper, and thus much of the charm of small-town news is lost.

She described a column her colleague used to write for The Cabinet. “It was practically a gossip column, at the end she was just reporting what she had heard on the telephone. Who had bought a new car, who had shot their first deer, who had caught a big fish in badger pound, who had people visiting? It was just fun to read,” she said.

Jessie’s love for local history has affected the way she approaches her romance novels. Her most recently published book, When the Tree Fell, is a small-town romance that centers around the aftermath of a beloved oak tree being destroyed during a lightning storm. Much of the story, from village politics to the background of her main character Abby, is strikingly reminiscent of Jessie’s own life and experience in small towns. Abby starts her career as a correspondent for a local newspaper and midway through college changes her major from literature to journalism–echoing Jessie’s own life in the 1970s.

Thornton Wilder’s 1927 novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey was a source of inspiration for Jessie’s book When the Tree Fell. Wilder’s book tells the story of several victims whose lives are interrelated leading up to the tragedy. As a long admirer of Wilder’s writing, Jessie wanted to

write a book that similarly examined how multiple people could be connected to a single event of tragedy.

The 87-year-old continues to be an active member of her historical society and a reporter for local newspapers. She hopes to publish a science fiction novel someday and is an active member of a writers’ group called the Tailspinners which began twenty years ago. Every morning except Sunday, Jessie wakes up at 5 a.m. to write; she reads for an hour each day, whether it’s a cozy mystery novel, a history, or a magazine. When asked for advice for burgeoning writers, she said, “Keep at it. The only way to get better is to write.”