|New York Times Best Seller Comes to Pittsfield|
|By Sabrina Damms, iBerkshires Staff|
12:00PM / Sunday, May 21, 2023
|Author Ana Reyes, Cultural Development Director Jennifer Glockner, and Berkshire Athenaeum Director Alex Reczkowski stand near the Reading Terrace.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Book enthusiasts gathered on the Reading Terrace at the Berkshire Athenaeum last week to meet author Ana Reyes, known for her New York Times best seller "House in the Pines."
While writing her book, it felt natural to set the tale in the Berkshires due to Reyes' strong connection to Pittsfield.
"I just have a very strong connection to Pittsfield and when I wrote my first book, it just felt very natural that this was where I was going to put it. There was never any question," Reyes said.
The tale follows Maya as she attempts to piece together the truth behind the death of her best friend, Aubrey.
Seven years following the death of her friend, Maya is living in Boston as she attempts to cope with the memories. She is forced to face her past when she comes across a video of a young woman who suddenly dies under similar circumstances.
Maya returns to her hometown in the Berkshires to uncover the truth behind what killed her friend years ago.
Throughout the novel, Reyes references iconic Pittsfield places including Wally at the Berkshire Museum, Berkshire Athenaeum's terrace, Park Square, Patrick's Pub, the YMCA and the Popcorn Wagon.
"When people from Pittsfield tell me that they've read the book and that they like my portrayal of it I just feel very honored because when I was writing the book, I was thinking about would the people who live there agree with my portrayal of it, so I'm just really grateful that so many people here have connected to it," Reyes said.
Reyes lived in Pittsfield for 2 1/2 years with her family and attended Sacred Heart Elementary and Stearns Elementary School.
"I just feel very, very comfortable here, very much at home. My family has moved away from here, but we still have a strong connection to the area."
Although her time in the Berkshires was brief, the memories she created in Pittsfield have continued to influence her.
"Pittsfield has a very strong place in my heart, because my grandparents are from here, I grew up coming for Christmas every year here and I've always come back here regularly because it's my mom's hometown," Reyes said.
Reyes has fond memories of sitting on the terrace reading books like the Fear Street Book series or by American author Christopher Pike.
During her time in Pittsfield, she wrote a short story titled "Annamarie Goes Back in Time" for the Berkshire Athenaeum's Annual Short Story Writing Contest, which earned her an honorable mention.
The story can still be found in the library's archive of their past short story competitions.
Although she did not write much immediately following the contest, the contest gave her the push to get her started.
"I think that it really sort of set the stage for — I can do this, this is something I can do if I'm motivated, I can sit down and write a story,” she said. "I think just the fact that the library gave me that push by having the contest.”
Berkshire Athenaeum Director Alex Reczkowski said the Berkshires has a strong community of book lovers and having opportunities where residents can interact with the author is a great way to bring people together.
"Having an event like this is important for students and people of all ages because it gives residents a chance to get a look behind the scenes of the writing process and provides residents an opportunity to ask the writer anything," the city's Cultural Development Director Jennifer Glockner added.
Berkshire County provides residents with access to world-class artists like Reyes, Reczkowski said.
"[Artists are] so accessible here. We're so lucky with that accessibility. We really work hard to break down barriers, whether it's that direct connection at Mass MoCA with all of their artists residencies, or having international dance folks at Jacob's Pillow. There's this immense access," Reczkowski said.