A young J.M. Surra researches
Monson, Maine - 2006
J.M. Surra on Barren Mountain
J.M. Surra grew up near Chatham, NY, surrounded by a unique assortment of area writers, musicians, and regular folks.
Just a stone's-throw from Woodstock in one direction, and West Stockbridge in the other, the cast of real-life
characters that populated his corner of Columbia County ranged from the slightly unusual to the unapologetically flamboyant.
By their very nature, such intriguing individuals encouraged J.M. to use his imagination and explore his farthest-reaching trains of thought. As one might expect, J.M. also encountered those who felt otherwise, and there were several of his young friends who refused to play with him because he "always told such big stories." Were his big stories really lies?
J.M. shrugs and says, "It's a common situation for those of us bound for futures as fiction writers. They were stories. Some big. Some little. Of course some were fiction. I didn't know it at the time, but I was honing my craft. I once asked a guy named Louey how he painted cars so beautifully, and he answered, 'Well, it's really all just paying attention to the details."
Indeed! What is fiction but well-told lies, always paying attention to the details? Good stories require investment and imagination on the parts of the listener AND the storyteller. The sad fact is that, wherever we go, we meet folks who lack imagination; those who can't understand why some of us push back the boundaries of truth, who can't fathom why we explore that ethereal realm beyond simple truth.”
J.M. winks, “Let’s just say that those particular lads probably never grew to become avid fiction readers. That's not wrong, per se; we each find and follow our own path. I'm sure they grew up and found fulfilling careers - maybe as accountants.”
His life's path has taken him through the most beautiful parts of our great nation. He first settled in rural Maine, where the scenic beauty and the unassuming honesty of the locals seized him by the heartstrings. There he stayed and lived happily for 25 years.
So often it happens that such good things come to an end. In 2008, J.M. moved away and left Maine behind him.
Visiting Washington State, he fell in love with the snow-capped mountains, the coastline, and of course, the people. He moved "forever" to Washington in 2014, and now lives and thrives on the shores of Puget Sound.