Valley People: Writing and Cooking with Mary Clare Griffin | Characteristics


Mary Clare Griffin and her son, Gabriel.

The Wood River Valley was a quieter place than it is now when Mary Clare Griffin showed up in 1991 with a master’s degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University, a budding career as a leader and the need to find meaning and redemption in the written word. word.

“I was writing a lot of poetry and non-fiction,” said Griffin, 64, whose children’s book “Gotta Love You, A Boy and His Dog,” is due out this year from Mascot Books.

“You just keep showing up with words and hoping you’re able to tell a story in a meaningful way. It’s a lonely process, but I can’t imagine not writing,” she said.

Griffin had made a living cooking for the San Francisco Giants and 49ers before moving to Idaho. She then found herself working for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore.

“I was in the kitchens of these celebrities where you can’t help but get sucked into their domestic dramas, but I yearned for a life in the context of deeper meaning, spirituality and devotion. “, said Griffin.

It occurred to her that she was living a “Mary and Martha” life, as the Bible says, where Martha slams all the pots and pans in the kitchen while Mary listens to Jesus’ teachings.

“The message is that you miss the best things in life,” Griffin said.

She immersed herself in her art and drew on the lessons and inspiration of her teachers, including Anne Lamott, Ethan Canin and MFK Fisher, the author of “How to Cook a Wolf”.

In 1999, Griffin’s first memoir “Language Lessons (For When Your Mom Dies)”, a story of redemption, love and reconciliation, was published to great acclaim.

“Life is a carousel these days, but back then it was simpler, and yet family dynamics are still complicated,” Griffin said. “This book has been a rewarding and cathartic achievement.”

Twenty years ago, Griffin was regularly winning poetry slams in the Valley and mingling with the booming local book culture of the time, which often centered on the iconoclastic books of Gary Hunt.

“Gary [and now Sarah Hedrick] was a great defender and promoter of writers and poets here. We had salons and met at writers’ houses like John Sack’s house. He once said that my handwriting reminded him of Joan Didion, and I nearly fell out of my chair.

Griffin said she has always been drawn to the study of pastoral care, bereavement and how people come to terms with loss and move on. In 2005, she entered the Boston seminary and decided to adopt a child as a single mother. A newborn son soon entered her life. Gabriel is now 16 years old.

“I received the message by my faith that this boy was the angel Gabriel coming to me, and that’s exactly what he was,” Griffin said.

“Because I was older when he came into my life, I had an intentional depth to elevate him as high as possible,” Griffin said. “I can’t imagine living without him. He deepened my heart’s ability to love.

A few years ago, Griffin found a YouTube video online about a Norwegian looking for a match for his widowed mother.

“It had about 15 million views and it was so wonderful, so I wrote her a letter asking if I could buy the story, not really knowing how the process works,” Griffin said. “I told him I knew we could make a Hollywood movie out of it. I pretty much made that up.

Griffin took him to Hollywood and met his friend and producer Allyn Stewart, a part-time Sun Valley local. Stewart took on the project, signed a deal, and now the film is in development, with Griffin serving as producer. A documentary film “Looking for Adam” on the same story was recently produced in Norway.

Griffin’s job as chef came to an abrupt end when the pandemic hit. She is now getting back into storytelling, which now includes a number of filmmaking projects.

“You can’t doubt yourself when something feels right,” she said. “You just have to do it.”


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