A love for home, friends and nature leads to first novel for Jim Nigro
Submitted by Howard Owens on October 2, 2010 - 5:03pm
Jim Nigro didn't set out to be a writer. In fact, when he was a kid, he didn't even really like stringing words together.
But with his love of nature and a life path that put him in a position to try some new things, Nigro just sort of fell into telling stories about hunting, fishing and observing what he found around him out in the wild. As for writing, it turns out, he really loves it.
The Batavian's outdoor columnist, in fact, has just published his second book -- a novel called "Tapestry: A Life Walk Among Friends."
The story revolves around two friends growing up in a small town much like Batavia, starting in the 1950s and going through the 1970s.
Nigro said though it's fiction and most characters are at best composites, about 90 percent of events in the book are drawn from his experiences or those of friends.
"Anybody who grew up here in the '50s, '60s or '70s will recognize their hometown," Nigro said.
Nigro's love of nature began when he was a small child visiting his aunt and uncle's house on Old Creek Road.
"I was knee-deep in mother nature at a very early age," Nigro said.
That love of nature and the friendships that grow from enjoying the outdoors together is the backdrop for Nigro's story.
Regular readers are aware of Nigro's outdoor adventures, which has taken him to various parts of the United States, including Alaska and such exotic locales as the Bahamas and the Sea of Abaco.
Along the way, the 60-year-old Nigro said, he's made some good friends and like anyone in life, had some rough patches.
In 1968, Nigro was about to embark on a military career -- all he needed to do was sign the contract -- but one afternoon, just after he had bought a sausage at the St. Joe's Lawn Fete, Nigro spotted a young woman walking by. Nigro dropped the sandwich right in the trash and walked home. He told his mother he was abandoning his military plans and going back to school.
That young lady was Claudia. They married in 1971 and have been together ever since.
After getting married, Jim got a chance to get a good-paying job in construction, so he wound up in that trade for about 20 years. Then he was offered a job -- through a connection of his father's -- at the Meadowlands, so he moved his family to New Jersey.
While Jim said he made some good friends there, it wasn't necessarily a good time.
"Ten years of staring at the New York City skyline, I grew to appreciate where I came from," Nigro said. "I was really homesick. I missed the little simple things like a ride from here to Elba or from here to Oakfield and all of those wide-open spaces."
The Nigros came home and Jim went to work at the Trojan factory and was there until it was sold to foreign investors and closed.
After that, Nigro decided to take advantage of a government program for retraining and returned to Genesee Community College to get a degree in commercial art.
After graduating, he had some scholarship offers, but not enough to pay for him to get a higher degree, so he had to go back to work and wound up in the landscape business, which he really enjoyed for about eight years.
Nigro started his writing career almost by accident. During his first year at Trojan, the Batavia Daily News was advertising for a part-time sportswriter and Jim applied. He didn't get the job because he didn't yet have a degree. The sports editor at the time figured maybe the job should go to somebody with a degree who didn't have a job.
A couple of years later, that editor was in JC Penney buying an engagement ring and Claudia mentioned that he knew her husband. They struck up a conversation and that led to Jim and the editor getting back in touch.
The editor wanted somebody to write a series of five outdoors articles.
That series became eight years of outdoors writing for the Daily. It also became fodder for Nigro's first book, "Dear Sam: Remembrances for My Grandson," a collection of true outdoor adventures and lessons Nigro wanted to share with his first grandson.
Ater the eight-year writing stint, Nigro and the Daily parted company and he came to really miss writing those columns. When The Batavian came along, Claudia contacted the online-only news site to see if there would be space for an outdoor column. Of course there would.
About this time, Jim decided that he really needed to write this novel, but he couldn't get it done while working full time. He and Claudia talked it over and decided they could get by if he quit his landscaping job to write.
"We decided to trust God," Nigro said, who with Claudia had by this time raised a son and a daughter (they now have four grandchildren).
And it's worked out fine, Jim said. And he got his book done.
Besides writing the book, Jim also drew many of the illustrations (there's also two photographs and one drawing by Claudia).
The book release party will be at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, at GoArt!, located at Seymour Place, 201 E. Main St., Batavia. The first copies of the book will be available and Jim will be there to sign personalized copies.