Honestly, I am every character in every one of my books…the kind characters as well as the not-so-kind ones. Each character is a splinter off of my core personality, my shadow self; his or her flaws, assets, gifts, and burdens, are my own.
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Have you ever gone apple picking? Or picked blueberries, or strawberries, or peaches? Out in the orchard the sun drapes your shoulders like new skin, the air smells of sweet ripeness, the choices are seemingly infinite, occasionally one juicy berry lands right in your mouth, the warm, exquisite wonder of it exploding across your tongue. And then you pass tree after tree, or row after row and you can’t find one piece of fruit that pleases you. But you keep searching and before long you again find the most perfectly round, ripe, sugar-swollen berries and before you know it your pail is filled to the brim. That’s what it’s like writing a book.
I’m always reluctant to say definitively that I will or won’t do something, but so many years have passed between the research and writing of RIFKA and the present that it seems less and less likely a sequel will emerge. Thank you so much for asking, though, and for caring.
Although I spent my first 11 years in Baltimore, Maryland, my hometown for much of my adult life has been Brattleboro, Vermont. You can see the most delightful things walking along Main Street: from children running through sprinklers to a man walking his pet pig on a leash. I never know what I’ll encounter when I step out for a walk. Often, I’m tickled by something so small, so sweet, so silly, so spectacular.
That is a hard question to answer because the world is so vast and filled with such variety. So many unique experiences await us when we travel as tourists and those experiences color our memories, slanting us toward one favorite or another. The season, the people you meet, the food you taste, the adventures you have, how you’re feeling…all of these factors and more influence your impression of a place. I’ve been to many extraordinary locations in the world, rich in history, culture, beauty, but in the end, it’s my home in Vermont that is my favorite place to vacation. Is that silly?
I wish I could have made the book a tad less sad.
But then it would have been a different story, wouldn’t it.
I keep reminding myself that I told the tale the only way I could have told it given my research, my understanding of the period, and my writer’s sensibilities.
But it is awfully sad, isn’t it.
My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Datnoff, my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Ball, and my public librarian, Peggy Coughlin, all encouraged the fledgling writer in me.
I received so many rejections through the early years of my career. At times I feared I would never succeed. But then I would recall the enthusiastic support of these early mentors and I kept working.
Mrs. Datnoff is standing in the center- back of this image. The young boy seated in the front row, second from the right, is my brother Mark who had Mrs. Datnoff three years before I had my turn as her student. Years later, when I sought her out to thank her, Mrs. Datnoff remembered my brother but didn’t remember me. I’m not surprised. In fifth grade I was as shy and quiet as a baby mouse.