Judy Calabrese’s upbringing would make for a riveting memoir. There’s a cheating father and a mother who disowned her, fundamentalist Catholicism and the wherewithal as an 18-year-old to pay for and put herself into therapy.
But beyond her own journals, Calabrese found the notion of making art from her own history foreign and terrifying. She went to college to become an actress.
“I wanted to be a fiction writer, and I was terrified when people said my writing was dramatic,” she said. “People would say ‘Is this based on your life?’ and I’d say ‘Absolutely not—these are characters.’ I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on with me.”