Jax Peters Lowell
We all have a story; here’s mine.
Like many young writers, I bemoaned the fact that I was “almost thirty” with not a single publishing credit to my name. As if this magic number were a Use-By Date after which I had to give up on the idea of ever writing a serious word.
I was a fashion writer, creative director, one of Ad Age’s 100 Best and Brightest Women in Advertising, but I was always ready to bolt, aching to find out if I had what it took to write books full time. Turns out, life had some sharp corners I never saw coming. This included career-ending brain surgery for my husband and a starring role for me as sole support and responsible party. I was well into my forties when I left it all behind.
A year later, my first novel was published, a prophetic tale of a young man born to and raised by two women in sixties and seventies New York when such things were still a crime. Mothers was a Barnes & Noble Great New Writers selection, and has never gone out of print. The story of Willy and his mothers, Theo and Claire, continues to reach into generation as family choices, same sex marriage, reproductive rights and sexual orientation are under new assault. Originally published by St. Martin’s Press, it is currently available on Amazon as an Authors Guild Back-in-Print Commemorative Edition.
The poems came later, as did short stories, appearing in journals like Poetry East, The Pinch, Poetry Breakfast, Hunger Mountain, Alimentum, The Examined Life, Virga Magazine and Bosque Journal, among others. A recent short story, The Pornographer Downstairs, was the Runner-Up for the Frank Mosher Fiction Prize. I have given many public readings and my work has been cited by the New York State Council on the Arts, and Long Island’s East End Arts. I am honored to be a recipient of the Leeway Foundation Transformation Award in the literary arts, a grant given to women whose work promotes cultural change and social justice. The ultimate embrace for this late bloomer.
As if I needed further proof that the wound is where we do our best work, I was ravaged by Celiac Disease (how thin is too thin?) at a time when the gluten-free diet was a nosebleed steep learning curve requiring one to forage for safe food in a still gluten-ignorant America. I did not yearn to write about food, especially gluten-free food. I had no idea what a sensation my cheeky little tutorial on resourcefulness, Against the Grain: The Slightly Eccentric Guide to Living Well Without Wheat and Gluten, would cause in the gluten-free community or that it would be a category first. Nor did I imagine that one day I would be known as the Godmother of Gluten Free. I simply followed in the footsteps of writers who believe in the power of story to change lives, and wrote the book I’d wished I had when I was suffering.
The bestselling Gluten-Free Bible followed, as did The Gluten-Free Revolution, an American Library Association Booklist Top 10 Food Book. What started as a food lover’s take on resourcefulness and getting a safe meal anywhere in the world, has morphed into a platform advocating for clean, organic, pesticide-GMO- hormone-free, sustainable and locally-sourced gluten and dairy-free food.
Inside the novelist-poet-healer-gluten-free expert-short story writer-feminist-food activist and newly-lactose-intolerant author is the beating heart of a caregiver. Flowing from all that this requires, is the memoir I am working on now. Working title: An Early Winter. More about that at a later date. At this point, all I’ll say is that it is heartbreaking, harrowing and at times, mordantly funny. It is a hard love story and a cautionary tale about deeds done in the dark, justice and the lack thereof, how little we know about the people we entrust with our lives.
Of all the questions I’ve been asked, I have yet to come up with a snappy answer for, “What kinds of books do you write?” Suffice it to say, after waiting so long to do the work I love, I’m not a person who likes to be categorized.
That’s my story. What’s yours?