This book tested my emerging skills as a writer. All the research I’d done was dry. My aunt told me her tales from the point of view of a 78 year old. How could I translate everything I’d learned into young Rifka’s voice?
I started LETTERS FROM RIFKA over at least a half dozen times. Each time I read the “new” first chapter to my critique group they would say, “Yes, this is good, keep going.” But reading the chapter aloud, I knew it still wasn’t right.
I felt so frustrated…I’d spent so much time preparing to write this book, learning about the early part of the 20th century in the U.S. and Europe, reading up on the economics,the politics, the culture of the time…but I couldn’t figure out how to relate all of that material credibly, in the voice of a twelve year old.
Finally, I put the question to myself before going to bed one night…”How do I write this book?”
When I woke the next morning the answer came to me. Letters! Make it an epistolary novel!
As soon as I wrote, “Dear Tovah…” I knew I had found my way into the book.