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The Maine Novelist Who Really Gets Teenagers

For adolescents, says Maria Padian, “the smallest thing can be filled with drama.”

PORTLAND, Maine — In commercial radio news, there is no time for artistry, no room for poetry. You deliver the facts—brisk, straightforward, unadorned. In that profession, Maria Padian learned to tell stories. “I loved it,” she says. “I loved the people. I loved news. And so for a long time, that’s what I was doing.”

Along the way, she picked up two skills that would later prove useful: how to write the way people speak, and how to tell stories with sound, not images.

The work was fun, and she found it rewarding. “But because I’m such a reader,” she told me, “I think I always had in the back of my mind that there really wasn’t anything better than telling a good fiction story.”

Padian, who has lived for many years in Brunswick, has just published her fifth book, a Young Adult novel called “How To Build a Heart.” The ups and downs of adolescent life provide a wealth of riches for a novelist, and she mines them with enthusiasm. “[Teenagers] lead with their hearts and they’re so passionate,” she says. “The smallest thing can be filled with drama. It’s really fun to write from that perspective.”

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