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Ridgefield Writer Puts Pen To Paper With Newest Novel

Chris Belden
Chris Belden Photo Credit: Photo (c) Marion Ettlinger

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — Ridgefield resident Chris Belden is very much an accomplished writer. But he didn't always feel that way.

If you were invited to a professional conference by mistake, would you go and conceal your identity?
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He channeled that anxiety into his latest book, "Shriver," which is set to be released by Simon & Schuster this fall.

Belden, who graduated from the Fairfield University's MFA program, said he was invited to a prestigious writers conference before he even was even a published author.

“At the time I didn’t have a published book,” Belden told the Daily Voice on Friday. “I’m treated like a real, bona fied author. I was discombobulated by the experience. I was never treated so respectfully.”

Shriver, the main character in Belden’s fictional book, is invited to a writers conference by mistake. He tries to pass himself off as a famous, reclusive author so nobody would recognize him.

Belden based his novel on bits and pieces of his writing conference experience. But he said that fellow writers will probably not recognize themselves in the book.

He said he has kept in touch with some attendees from the conference. If any of them were to read the book, he said they would probably be pleased with the result.

“I’m sure they'd get a kick out of it,” Belden said.

When asked whether any one experience at the conference inspired the book, Belden said he felt particularly discombobulated sitting on the writers' panels.

Belden, who majored in film, said he wasn’t familiar with the deep, intellectual literary theory they would discuss.

“Most writers teach — a lot of them teach English — so they’re very familiar with all these theories,” he said.

So Belden discussed his work in simpler terms, and the writers as well as the readers in the audience thanked him for not delving into theory.

Belden says the name of his book has nothing to do with the famous Kennedy-related family. Maria Shriver is a noted journalist and ex-wife of former California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, was the founder of Special Olympics and was the sister of President John F. Kennedy and the wife of Sargent Shriver, a noted politician and humanitarian. None have anything to do with the name of Belden's novel.

Belden he said he chose the name for its German roots, which are associated with writing.

But is Shriver, the main character, truly a writer?

“The mystery of the book is: Is he a writer or isn’t he?” Belden said.

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