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760c9426-2a06-4b6e-af7d-0d497028183a.jpg (56×96)No, I’m sad to say my Aunt Lucy died in December of 2009 at the age of 97. In her obituary she was credited with being the inspiration for the character of Rifka. She was an exceptional woman, sorely missed not only by her family and friends but by readers of the book who have come to know and care for her and her fictionalized story.



I’ve been to New York City many times, I’ve traveled long distances by boat, and just a few years ago I visited Belgium, but I’ve never been to Russia or Poland. For the most part I have relied on research to help create credible settings.

036 (7)As a reader, I find certain books linger with me for months, for years, and occasionally for decades. Books have kept me afloat when I wondered how much longer I could hold on. They have taught me about decency and integrity. Books have shown me how survival is possible even when the odds suggest otherwise. Books have also taught me the elegance and beauty and power of language, not just for the message it contains but for the simple way it rolls off the tongue, the way it delights and excites every sense. Do I expect to have the same impact on my readers that certain writers have had on me? No. But I am grateful for every reader and for each opportunity to communicate and to share. If the reader feels less alone as he or she spends time inside one of my books, that’s enough for me.



With any luck, sooner or later, we all discover something we simply love to do. The more we do it the better we get at it.

When you’re passionate about doing something it’s really not a matter of patience at all.

I’m really tired at the end of the day but it’s the best kind of tired I can imagine.

I wish for you the good fortune of finding the thing you love to do and the ability to pursue it with your heart, your mind, and your spirit.

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 Yes, yes, yes. I had many jobs before I became a full time author. I’ve worked as a nanny, a waitress, a librarian, a bookkeeper, a substitute teacher, an advertising secretary, a typesetter, and a proofreader. I was very good at some of these jobs and absolutely dreadful at others. I’m glad this writing thing worked out in the end.



I think about that often. In fact at one point I considered writing a book in which a selection of characters from some of my favorite novels (written by other authors) live in a high rise apartment house called Century Towers. These characters begin to fade over time and when the day comes when no one reads their books they vanish completely; their apartments left silent and empty.

As for my own characters, I don’t wonder at all about them after I’ve completed the book. Funny, isn’t it?

ItalyEngland2014 503Several times I have spent years researching, writing, and revising a book only to decide it was not worthy of publication. Sometimes, after spending months immersed in a time period or a set of characters, I find I’m not engaged enough. If I’m not compelled by the setting and story, I can’t possibly expect you to be. Honestly, a good part of the joy for me is in the writing process itself. Of course I love when a book is published. But I am not the least bit angry when a book I’ve dedicated my time and spirit to never sees print. It is enough for me to have taken the journey. There is not simply one reward for hard work. Rewards are complex and surprising in their manifestations.

7april2013lc 027I’m smiling, remembering many trips to amusement parks over the years. As a child I was taken as a special treat to Gwynn Oaks Amusement Park in Baltimore, Maryland. As an adult I took my own daughters to Disney. I drew on the enchantment of those experiences as I wrote BROOKLYN BRIDGE. Though I never visited Luna Park, I remember well the wonder of such places.

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I began by reading all of Pushkin’s poetry. Then, painstakingly, I went through his body of work again, teasing out brief passages that had some relevance to what I was trying to say in each section of LETTERS FROM RIFKA. The selection process took weeks of intense concentration. I hope some of my readers will go on to read Alexander Pushkin’s work on their own.



When I decided to write about drought, the Dirty Thirties immediately sprang to mind. That particular time period seemed to be the obvious context in which to explore the impact of water scarcity on society.


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