Plenty of people keep a folder of their child’s creative writing—a place to house all those Mother’s Day odes and two-page middle school essays.
Julianna Roche’s parents could turn hers into a series of bound volumes. One for every year.
Poems, short stories, screenplays: Roche didn’t merely enjoy writing—she lived for it.
“I’ve always had a passion for it,” Roche reflects. “My parents both worked in medicine, but I had relatives in the creative arts, so my dad always used to joke that those genes found their way to me.”
She certainly had no lack of material to draw from. Born in Upstate New York, Roche spent her early childhood in central Connecticut before moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana, when she was 12.
The change of scenery—from New England’s verdant rolling hills and old mill towns to the Hoosier State’s corn-laden landscape (she literally lived on Popcorn Drive) inspired more than just her writing, however.
“Moving to cities where I don’t know anyone is something I’m used to,” Roche says. “I relish that kind of experience—meeting new people, discovering new places. There’s a freedom that comes when everything is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. It’s one of the reasons I love traveling so much.”
And not necessarily at an airplane’s pace. A high school track and cross country star, Roche earned a full-ride scholarship to Miami University in Ohio, where she majored in journalism.
During her junior year, Roche was given the chance to study abroad in Italy. There was just one small issue: If she chose to go, her new track coach wouldn’t allow her to keep her scholarship.
“My mom was born in Italy, so it was really important for me to experience it for myself,” Roche reflects. “I think I made the right decision. Actually, I know I did.”
After graduating in 2011, Roche upped stakes once again, accepting an internship at Cincy Magazine in Cincinnati, Ohio. Parlaying her post into a full-time job on the journal’s editorial staff, Roche found a niche covering offbeat subjects and stories: sitting down with Parliament-Funkadelic bass guitarist Bootsy Collins; touring the massive (and controversial) Creation Museum in nearby Petersburg, Kentucky—you get the idea.
Her most challenging assignment: interviewing members of the Cincinnati Reds about their favorite fashions—under somewhat intimidating circumstances.
“It was a crazy experience,” Roche says. “Talk about being out of my comfort zone. Some of the players definitely went out of their way to make things difficult, but I managed to keep my cool.”
In 2012, Roche moved back East for good. Earning her master’s in communications and media studies from Boston University in 2015, she spent the next two-and-a-half years in a variety of editorial roles: first as a writer for popular blog Culture Trip and educational training website Microburst Learning; followed by a reporting stint with the Rivereast News Bulletin in Glastonbury, Connecticut.
One day, while scouring Google, Roche happened upon a job listing from a company in Portland, Maine. Though she’d only visited the city once, the impression it left—coupled with what seemed like the ideal role—made the decision an easy one.
“It was the perfect blend of all of my interests: writing, interviewing, connecting with people,” says Roche, who joined Trueline as a content coordinator for Vanguard magazine in March 2018. “I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years, but I’ve never worked a place where it feels so much like family.”
Now a managing content coordinator, Roche has embraced her new home’s unique offerings: going on weekend adventures with her 8-year-old terrier poodle Starbuck; scouring Portland Food Map for the newest eateries (if you haven’t, check it out); and exploring the length and breadth of Portland’s historic streets.
Not that she’ll ever sit still long, of course.
“I’ve done quite a bit of travel throughout Europe, so I’m looking to broaden my horizons a bit,” says Roche, who along with fellow Vanguard stalwart, Matthew Warner, recently completed a two-week trek through Europe. “Japan might be next on my list. After that, who knows?”
For Roche, it’s the only itinerary worth keeping.
New Portland restaurant tip: Anoche to get your Spanish pinxtos fill
Best-dressed Cincinnati Red: Brandon Phillips
Favorite dog-walking spot: Mackworth Island
Country she’d consider retiring to: Italy
Favorite Italian dish: Impossible to choose just one, but one of my favorite classics is penne all’arrabbiata (which means “angry pasta”) and is made with a spicy sauce of garlic, tomatoes and dried red chili peppers cooked in olive oil.