I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe. With so much happening in the world these days, I trust you can understand my absence from this space over these many months. But rest assured, I‘ve been making good use of my time during the global coronavirus pandemic. I have been immersed in writing a novel and finishing a poetry collection. Writing is the thing that makes me happiest and helps me make sense of this world.
For me, novel writing has been, well…novel. I had written three memoirs (two of them published to date) but hadn’t yet tackled fiction. I wanted to challenge myself, to grow as a writer. Writing poetry has been my entré into the world of fiction. This is where I have a chance to allow my imagination to take me to new places, geographically and emotionally.
There is an old adage that non-fiction writers are often accused of incorporating some fiction into their narratives, and conversely, that novelists are bound to sprinkle their stories with bits of true, lived experience. I will confess here and now, the latter was true for my new novel whose working title is To Swallow the World.
Having had my roots in non-fiction, I drew on it for inspiration. I had, for years, been fascinated by my mother Dora’s remarkable history, yet she was so unlike my father who spoke of his own history so volubly. I knew only a collection of tantalizing tidbits of her story by pressing her for as much information as I could glean. My mother was reluctant to share with me the many dark moments in her past as I am certain she wanted to shield me from pain. She passed away far too young forty years ago, so it was up to me to try to assemble and reassemble the puzzle of her experiences that took place long before I was born. Amazingly, I also managed to find a few precious scraps of her own writing most of which she had purposely destroyed before her passing.
Assessing all I had, I surmised it was insufficient to responsibly weave into a memoir, so I took treasured bits and pieces as inspirational nuggets to write a novel whose protagonist is as smart, creative, intrepid, introspective, and brave as was my mother. In my heroine, Rifka Berg, beats my mother Dora’s heart.
I hope that when To Swallow the World is published, you’ll find it a riveting saga. It is a story of a rebellious young woman caught up in personal tragedy and swept up by historical events. Throughout her life she struggles to understand the difference between ideals and reality; between love and infatuation. You will join her on a journey from her teenage years to old age.
The novel is currently with my agent and I look forward to giving you a publication date.
Some more good news – my poetry collection e-book, Erythra Thalassa: Brain Disrupted is now available on Amazon for preorder. The paperback copy will be available for purchase on November 12, 2020, the sixth anniversary of my only son’s tragic hemorrhagic stroke. For those of you who prefer supporting your local bookstores, the paperback will be available for order from your local bookstore via Ingram/Spark.
Those of you who know me personally, know that for six years I have been immersed in my son’s unimaginably difficult struggle to live. There was only one way for me to harness my grief—to write. I wrote individual poems on hospital corridor benches, sitting broken in front of the neuro ICU’s. Eventually the poems found their own arc, urging me to assemble them into a poetry style chapbook.
I hope you’ll find it a compelling portrayal of a mother’s anguish over the sudden hemorrhagic stroke of her son—devoted father of two young girls—rendering him a quadriplegic in the prime of his life. My intent is to share with my readers an intimate glimpse of a world shattered by stroke and reimagine a life with hope and acceptance.
Wishing all of you, health, safety, and joy!