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Liz Massey, AZ

Critically Acclaimed Writer

From the beginning of her career as published writer, when she was profiling square-dancing suburbanites and interviewing retirement community residents from “the Greatest Generation,” Liz Massey has had a hunger to tell the stories of ordinary people. Liz has profiled people from all walks of life in 500+ published articles, in videos, and on audio podcasts. She’s also showcased outstanding graduates of Arizona State University as managing editor of ASU Magazine. Currently, she shares her personal history expertise through her business, Listen Closely Productions and works as a freelance book editor.

As a Story Terrace writer, Liz interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

My Love Affair With Sound

My love affair with sound is one of long standing, and definitely pre-dates the digital era. In fact, it all started with my mother getting me hooked on bedtime stories and the sound of her voice.

Before I could read, Mom would tell me bedtime stories about a couple of circus clowns who lived in Sarasota, Florida in the winter and spent much of their free time teaching crafts to small children recuperating in hospitals. Mom didn’t know much about the inner workings of the circus, Florida, or children’s hospitals … but as a former kindergarten teacher, she knew how to do arts and crafts, so inevitably the stories would involve elaborate art projects.

She included blow-by-blow instructions for decoupage, finger painting, and mixed media murals in her stories. I wasn’t especially interested in the craft projects — in fact, I’m pretty sure my mother inserted these details into the story to put me to sleep! — but I was mesmerized by the way she could create an entire world out of nothing but sound.

A few years after the clown stories, I was given a tape recorder by the owner of a shoe store where my mom worked part time. I think the idea was that it would keep me preoccupied while Mom was working, and boy, did it ever. I fell in love with the idea of documenting sounds, and ran around sticking my microphone everywhere, including making endless recordings of the local time-and-temperature line.

Audio cassettes became the canvas upon which I painted the emotions and facts of my youth. Once I was a teenager, I put together soundtrack-worthy mix tapes, recorded lengthy audio letters, and taped more than a few of my first magazine interviews. I proudly went to the Venture store in Roeland Park, Kansas, to buy my audio tapes in bulk, with a 16-tape pack being my top choice.

No media I’ve encountered in the years since then can match the unique intimacy of audio. It’s just like I’m standing right here by the listener’s side, telling them a story. (Or a secret.) Every time I press play on an evocative sound file, the romance of audio begins again for me. Judging by my history with sound, it seems as if I have made a lifetime commitment.

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