As the daughter of a sculptor, I grew up watching my mother chisel and carve pieces of wood, stone, and clay, until she brought out what she saw inside. Often, she said, the material surprised her by what it ultimately revealed of itself. To me, this is also the essence of writing – it’s sculpting a story with words, with the expectation that it might not become the story you thought it was.
I love the research. My office tends to get piled high with background material. But I believe in visiting the places I’m writing about. They’re never quite the same as they appear in books or articles. A Day of Small Beginnings took me to Poland, where certain sites and some astonishing events I experienced did not match what I thought I knew about the country.
The same is true of my new novel, Sacrificial Man. It’s about the betrayal of a marriage during the McCarthy Era. My visit to Cahokia Indian Mounds archaeological site outside East St. Louis, Illinois, where the novel takes place, was so full of historical and personal surprises it inspired a much bigger story.
Writing has also made me become a person I didn’t know I could be. After A Day of Small Beginnings was published, the nation-wide book tour suddenly had me addressing large audiences and later, scores of book groups. It was pretty exciting, but also a little disconcerting - to hear work I had crafted in isolation ( and read only by my invaluable writers’ group), being discussed by strangers.
No less amazing is the privilege of watching actors give voice to my stories. My writing life has been deeply enriched by working with The Braid (formerly Jewish Women’s Theatre.). I wear a lot of hats there, as writer, dramaturg,, podcaster, board member, and creator/moderator of events and programs. I am truly grateful to be part of this highly unusual creative enterprise.