What’s your name and what is your relationship to Queens?
I’m Steve Fisher. I’ve been a life-long resident of Queens, with the exception of graduate school at Harvard University and a year in Atlanta in 1975-76. That was a difficult time to find work in architecture in New York City; a former professor who had relocated to the south invited me to work with him there. Missing New York, I ran back to Queens and have lived here ever since.
Where have you lived in Queens?
When I was born in 1951, my family lived upstairs from their retail store on Grand Avenue in Maspeth. The construction of the Long Island Expressway in the early 1950s cut a diagonal swatch in the fabric of the Maspeth landscape uniquely affecting our building; only a slice was removed from the front of our Fisher’s Men’s Shop, allowing us to remain in business. We moved to a newly constructed brick, attached house on 69th Place near Eliot Avenue, also in Maspeth, when I was 3 ½ years old. I lived there growing up until I got married in 1976. Returning to Maspeth after our short stay in Atlanta, my wife Rosanna and I rented an apartment; we had a son in 1982. We bought a two-family house along with my in-laws in 1987, across Eliot Avenue in the adjoining community of Middle Village, two blocks from where I grew up. But our apartment was more spacious so we chose not to move there, at least not at that time. Instead, in several years we bought a house in Middle Village. But when my father-in-law passed away, we did move in with my mother-in-law, Carmela Ippolito. We live there still. In short, I’ve resided in Maspeth/Middle Village for most of my life.
How would you describe the writing you do?
That’s a tough one. I like to think that my stories capture some aspect of life that is humorous, or perhaps more accurately, contains irony. They usually document experiences that are true.
How did you come to writing? What inspires you?
That’s easy. I write because I have such a poor memory. In not trusting myself to remember things, I rely on writing and photographing to help me to recollect the details of my experiences. And the inspiration comes from my family. I began writing for my son, Andrew. I wanted to pass on to him my memories. I started creating hand-made illustrated books that told children’s stories, like “The Flying Candy Store.” Whenever we travelled, I kept a journal and upon our return home I’d compose stories and essays of our journey.
What does it mean to be a writer in Queens?
This may sound strange, but I don’t consider myself a writer, per se. As a retired architect, I keep busy with a number of activities. I not only write, I paint and photograph as well. I enjoy walking around my neighborhood of Maspeth and Middle Village almost on a daily basis, always with camera in hand. And if I see or encounter something that interests me, I either photograph it or write about it. I find Queens a land rich with images and stories.