(To my email subscribers. Click on the title THE PROFILE INTERVIEW in the above box for full post, links—and color.)
Playing Around With a Story Line in Different Literary Genres
Hi Writers and Journalists,
Writing Leap # 7 The Profile Interview
Are you curious about what might motivate people deep down in their hearts? What makes them come alive?
The profile interview in journalism is one way to bring people to life on the page, using their own words and your observations. The journalist listens.
Journalism has made me a better person. I have learned to go into an interview with an open mind, judgment free. I slip into their world and that allows the magic to happen. People sharing. Me really hearing.
Before I even open my notebook I try to make everyone comfortable. I rely on feelings of good will.
I just bring about ten specific questions around the theme I am pursuing. I let their responses veer away from these questions and look for small details. Pertinent direct quotes are the backbone of the interview.
It’s a good feeling if and when both the interview and the written piece flow. So find someone who interests you and give it a try!
New Story Line
Passion: And Then What?
Passion has consequences ranging from miserable to sublime. Notice someone’s passion and do a profile interview with them. It’s fun.
This interview below with the lobster-fishing and lobster-roll-serving Mansi family in Guilford, Ct. was a pleasure.
Passion for Lobster
Thick green marshland grasses and winding harbor inlets, fishing boats and sailboats with tall masts, the fragrance of light salty breezes, the dock and lobster shack at the Guilford Lobster Pound has it all.
Painters paint it, photographers photograph it and some give their pictures to the friendly Mansi family, owners of the dock and the lobster fishing/eatery operation here.
But don’t think this is just another picturesque spot where you sit outside at picnic tables with umbrellas and enjoy morsels fit for the gods. There is something special going on here.
Yes, you remember the luscious lobster rolls and the extra tasty clear-broth clam chowder chock full of quahogs. But what you remember most is feeling the genuine, easy warmth of the Mansi family. It makes just a pretty setting turn beautiful.
Her work is her passion, Janice Mansi said. “On the really hot days it has to be. Making people happy is the best part of this job,” she said. “It’s the customers we love.”
The customers love the Mansis back.
“They come with drinks (it’s B.Y.O.B.) and invite us to toast with them. They want us to stay here till they go home to bed. I want to go to bed! Let them stay,” Jan said.
Mansi daughter Erica, 21, may have revealed the reason for the warm and welcoming feeling that floats around the dock.
“What’s special for us is we get so close as a family. We are four peas in a pod,” Erica said. The customers benefit.
Most every morning during lobster season (April to January) Jan’s husband, Capt. Bart Mansi and their son, Bart IV, 24, take their lobster boat out on Long Island Sound to bait their traps and collect the lobsters.
“I like being on the water catching the product. It’s a freedom I have,” Bart said. He has been lobster fishing for thirty-eight years, since he was fourteen. His 42 foot fiberglass Maine boat, the Erica Paige, named after his daughter, is docked next to the shack where they sell their fresh lobsters to restaurants and loyal customers.
“We put the catch in water tanks. For the dock we steam them; crack them; cut them in chunks and put them in quarter pound bags. The size of one lobster roll.” he said.
“What makes us unique is the boat. The product comes right off the boat into the stomach in a matter of a day or two,” Bart said, stretched out on his lounging chair in the Lobster Pound shack. It was late afternoon and he had been working the lobster boat since 4 A.M. after all.
At their pushcart on the dock Jan and Erica pour sweet, warm butter over the lobster chunks and pile them high in toasted rolls.
“Each lobster roll is unique,” Jan said. “We say, ‘Look at this one! Or ‘Let’s hide this one!” When Jan gives you her genuine smile you almost feel like hugging her.
And when Erica asks you how you like the food she really wants to know. She’s a Mansi. “You get crazy tan lines, one day runs into the next, but you feel weird when the season is over, she said.
“People tie up their kayaks to our dock, climb up in their bathing suits and eat,” Bart said. “They come with their dogs.”
A wedding, an eightieth birthday? Both have taken place in that “Little Piece of Heaven,” as the Mansis call it.
The Mansi family rarely eat lobster themselves. “You smell it coming off you in the shower at night,” Jan said. They were about to go out to dinner for Chinese food.
“Others eat the lobster rolls like M & M’s. We all really love lobster but we’re around it all day,” Erica said. One exception is their seven fish Christmas Eve dinner when Jan, who loves to cook, makes her lobster sauce with garlic and parsley.
“The passion for me is family. More than the cooking,” Erica said.
The Guilford Lobster Pound also serves homemade stuffies, steamed hot dogs and authentic homemade Italian gelato.
505A Whitfield Street
Guilford, Ct 06437
Tel: 203 453-6122
Check out Guilford Lobster Pound for photos and information.
LINKING THE ARTS
A Funny Word That Evokes a Memory
quahog: an edible clam found on the Eastern Coast of the U.S.A.
Quahog makes me think of a morning I dug for clams as young child on the bay in Wellfleet, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. The ocean floor at low tide was squishy, kind of yukky between my toes. I dropped the quahogs into my pail, plunk, plunk and felt giddy as they piled up, very pleased to be a “wonderful quahog digger,” according to my mother.
Photographs can take you on vacation. These are of the Guilford Lobster Pound.