North Falmouth resident Alexandra Speck has lived many lives and played many parts, including a mute nurse on the soap opera “All My Children” and a member of the New York City-based comedy troupe the Upright Citizens Brigade.
Ms. Speck, who now works as a development associate for the Community Health Center of Cape Cod in Mashpee, is adding “author” to her list of roles following the release of her first novel, “Honor Girl,” which she self-published in print and electronically through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing last month.
The semi-autobiographical novel is now available on Amazon and Kindle and at local bookshops including Eight Cousins Books in Falmouth.
In a press release, Ms. Speck summarized her book as follows: “At 30, Emma’s life in New York City was in a downward spiral. Between a devastating heartbreak and a mediocre acting career, she knew she could find something better. Searching for a life filled with meaning, or just a barbecue and a patch of grass, Emma moved to a small village in Cape Cod to start over. Now ready to date and embark on a new career, Emma is going to get what she wants out of life. And in the process, she may find who she really needs. Or maybe the answer was there all along.”
During an interview at the Community Health Center on Tuesday, November 7, Ms. Speck said she has wanted to be a writer and an actress since she was a young girl growing up in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
Her family spent many summers in Woods Hole, as her father, a pediatrician, conducted cancer research at the Marine Biological Laboratory.
She received a bachelor of arts degree in English literature from Columbia University and studied broadcast journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill Graduate School of Journalism.
For a time, she even followed in her father’s footsteps and studied science and medicine.
After moving to Cape Cod from New York, she worked for more than four years as a reporter for WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR Station, where she won an Edward R. Murrow Award for writing. Other past work experiences include teaching middle school drama and creative writing at Falmouth Academy. She also served as director of education and program development at Cotuit Center for the Arts.
While working at WCAI, she also wrote the blog “Crybaby Soup” and started working on early drafts of “Honor Girl,” which she honed in workshops with fellow writers at the Cape Cod Writers Center in Hyannis.
“Having deadlines helped me get the novel written,” she said.
Once she finished the manuscript, she sent query letters and sample chapters to several publishing houses.
“When it didn’t get picked up, I said, ‘I could self-publish this rather than let it sit in my drawer for years,’” she said. “So I did.”
Self-publishing, she said, no longer has the quite same stigma for a new author that it had in decades past when prospective authors often shied away from it as unprofessional.
“There are so many success stories with self-published authors, and publishing companies are really paying attention to books that have already found an audience,” she said.
In the meantime, she said she simply wants to get as many people as she can to pick up her book.
“I’ve sold about 100 copies so far, and I’m planning to do readings and signings at local bookstores across the Cape,” she said.
In her role as development associate for the Community Health Center, Ms. Speck said she organizes fundraising events or activities and leads and plans donor cultivation events. She manages internal and external communications, including the organization’s website and social media presence. She also assists with grant writing and creating donor communications materials.
Among her other acting credits are roles on television and in several plays in New York. She played Nan/Lina in Richard Greenberg’s “Three Days of Rain” and Cynthia in Nicky Silver’s “The Maiden’s Prayer.” She has also been a member of the New York City-based improvisational comedy troupe Ugly Stick, and she was a performer in ImprovBoston’s long-running show “Sitcom!”
Of her first book, she said, “It’s a fun beach read, and 80 percent of it is made-up,” she said. “But there’s a lot of me and my experiences in it.”
She noted Nantucket author Elin Hilderbrand, who writes romance novels set on and around Nantucket Island, as an influence on the genre and style of her book.
A five-star Amazon review of the book said, “Breezy, witty and totally relatable, Speck’s first novel is set in Woods Hole and NYC and is filled with spot-on references about local watering holes and other landmarks. You’ll root for broken-hearted Emma, the main character, from the first page as she endures her quest to find true love.
“Some passages are laugh-out-loud funny and even the more sensitive parts are tinged with Speck’s light-hearted, self-deprecating tone. You won’t be able to put the book down until you find out where Emma’s quest leads her and while the ending may be surprising, you’ll be satisfied with the result. The one thing you will be wanting more of is Speck’s voice, which, hopefully we’ll be privy to in another book written by her soon!”
When asked whether she plans to write a second novel, she said, “When I earn an advance for my first novel, and when I find the time.”
As a single mother of two children, who are 4 and 7, she said time is truly at a premium but she has no plans to give up writing.