The town of New Winslow is a small community in the grip of a strange curse. While life tends to go on as normal, residents or visitors will occasionally find themselves unable to move past the town limits. You never when it’ll hit you or how long it will last. But the rent is cheap and the people are nice. So if you can ignore the occasional paranormal phenomenon, New Winslow is a great place to live.
Part One begins when an impulsive promise and family obligations bring two friends back to New Winslow years after they left. Meanwhile, the town psychic looks for answers, the lone bartender quietly mourns, a young mother tries to hold things together, and the pizzeria owner just wants to be left in peace. As all their stories come together, mysteries are pursued, long-buried feelings resurface, and, as always, life carries on.
Trigger warnings for New Winslow include: alcoholism, postpartum depression, mild violence, blood
If you’re looking for a deep dive into friend dynamics, found family, and facing your demons, New Winslow is for you! I enjoyed seasons 1 and 2 so much I binge-read them over the course of 2 days. The story deals with some heavy topics (see TWs above), the characters are wonderfully real and messy, and the specter of something ghostly hangs over it all. I highly recommend New Winslow.
And onto the interview!
Hi, Amanda, welcome to the blog! Tell us a bit about yourself!
I live a pretty quiet life in Massachusetts. Back in another life, I worked in libraries but I’ve been a stay at home/work at home mom for several years now. So a lot of my life revolves around my home and family, which I love. I also spend a lot of time studying local history/folklore, experimenting with cooking and gardening, and hanging out with my sisters and mother.
I can definitely feel the love for your state in your work. What was the inspiration behind New Winslow?
A large part of it was that local history and folklore I mentioned before. Several years ago I got absolutely obsessed with the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir, a local man made reservoir that established safe drinking water for Boston at the cost of four flooded towns eighty miles away. It was eighty years ago and these communities just disappeared, yet surprisingly few people in the rest of the state seem to even be aware of that fact. So a lot of the stories of the reservoir and the surrounding communities made their way into New Winslow. This region is often overlooked when people talk about Massachusetts, but I wanted to celebrate both it and the people who live here.
Drowning towns is super spooky. No wonder that played a bit part in setting the scene in the stories! Speaking of, season 2 ends on a really intriguing cliff-hanger. What can we expect for these characters in season 3?
Yeah, I got in a lot of trouble for that cliff-hanger with some family members haha. Season 3 is going to see a lot of the cast having no choice but to face down their worst fears. For some it might be in the form of literal demons while others are facing their more metaphorical demons. So there’s going to be some painful moments, some reckonings, changed relationships. But there’s also the possibility of redemption and strengthened bonds among the families in New Winslow, both blood and found. And some new characters that I’m really looking forward to having everybody meet.
When it comes to individual characters, I obviously can’t get into many specifics. But I will say I’m excited for Olivia’s development in particular. She’s been stuck in a bit of a holding pattern between her job and her postpartum depression. Season 2 saw her taking a few steps down her own path, but I’m really excited for that to expand in this coming season.
I really love Olivia, so I’m really excited to see her story arc! Switching gears a bit, can you talk about serialized fiction and how it’s working for you? Are you enjoying it?
So I never actually considered doing serialized fiction when I first came up with the idea for New Winslow. But now I honestly can’t picture it in any other format. (Though, Netflix, if you want to call, I’m here haha). I absolutely love it. Originally New Winslow was going to be an audio drama. I actually wrote the first season in script format during Nanowrimo 2018, entirely on my phone and usually while my kid was in his playgroup. I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t have the skills or the resources to do the story justice as a podcast, so I decided to change it into a novel.
But then I realized it was far too episodic to be a satisfying novel. I considered changing it around, but felt that the story just worked best in that style. Which led me to serials. I’d only ever read fan fiction in a serialized format like that, but after discussing it with several friends, I decided to give it a try. And it worked out better than I could have imagined.
I truly enjoy writing serialized fiction. I feel like you get the best of both worlds with it, where you can write a novel-length work and get the satisfaction of writing an ongoing story, but also get the immediate thrill of releasing it publicly. New Winslow still has a ways to go before it wraps up, but I will absolutely be writing more serialized fiction in the future as well.
It’s always an amazing feeling when you find the perfect format for your project. I would have a hard time seeing New Winslow in any other format, too. What advice would you give other authors thinking about trying their hand at serialized fiction?
Finish your story before you release it. I know it seems to go against the idea of releasing the story in parts, but it makes things so much less stressful if you are done before releasing Episode One. Sure, you might have a few little changes to make as you publish, things like word choice or grammatical errors. But writing everything first means that you have so much more freedom with your story decisions. If you release episode 2, then have a great idea for episode 10 that goes against what happened in episode 2, you can simply go back and edit episode 2. But if you’re releasing episodes as you write them, then you’ve written yourself into a corner. And it’s not fair to your readers for you to go back and retcon episode 2 in order to make it work.
So focus on pre-production, finish your writing in advance, and then all you have to worry about is releasing and promoting episodes.
Also, I would suggest having your story on as many platforms as you can feasibly promote and keep track of. I come from podcasting, which is very centralized. If you upload your show to Apple and Spotify, you’re accessible for the majority of podcast audiences. It’s not the same with publishing online. So I publish on Patreon, along with several other free websites and my own site. And at the end of the season, I also publish complete novel-style ebooks and paperbacks. The downside is that tracking readership is completely impossible. But the upside is that you’re getting your work out to a much wider audience than you would have by just focusing on, say, Patreon and your website.
That’s really great advice. Thank you! I always love hearing about other writers’ habits, so before we go: what’s your favorite place to write?
Currently, my kitchen table. I can spread out all my notes and have plenty of room for snacks. But I’m hoping to have an office area in my next home because I’ve had that before and loved it!
And one last question! Where can we find you and your projects online?
My projects are on a few different sites. The primary one is my Patreon. That’s the most popular choice and it’s free, though patrons get perks as well. Beyond that, New Winslow is available on the Enfield Arts website, Medium, Tumblr, and Wattpad. And full season collections are available on Gumroad and Amazon.
Amanda McColgan is a writer, performer, and lifelong Massachusetts resident. In a past life, she was a librarian in both public libraries and private research institutions. This led to a passion for research and writing which, combined with her love of New England’s history and culture, formed the foundation for Enfield Arts. She loves getting lost on the back roads of Massachusetts, chocolate chip cookies, and a good slow-burn romance story. She hates pears and driving in Boston. You can usually find her at home with a cup of coffee in hand and at least three pens stuck in her hair for safekeeping. You can contact Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org.