For readers who are interested, here’s a brief bio:
I was born in an upstate New York village that had been a Utopian experimental community in the 19th century. Although it was ultimately abandoned in the 1880’s, many of its residents remained to pass down its unusual traditions to the generations that followed.
Community women had been encouraged to explore and develop their intellectual and creative resources. My grandmother, for instance, wrote a political column for the local newspaper and worked as a suffragette in Boston with Eleanor Roosevelt. My great aunt was a medieval historian, the first woman allowed access to the Vatican library. She and I would read Jane Austen together as she penciled comments in the margins (a habit i have inherited). Her handwriting looked like that wayward tracks of a stoned spider, and I was extremely proud to be the only child in the family who could decipher it. By taking on the world with their own gifts and chutzpah, these and many other community women served as examples for me so that when I finally got around to writing a novel at the age of thirty, it felt neither abnormal nor taboo.
The community’s lush surroundings in the Mohawk River valley near the Adirondack foothills and the Finger Lakes make for an idyllic playground. Many of my childhood summer days were spent investigating nearby woods and creeks, and later on, once we teen-agers were awarded our dirvers’ licenses, our adventures expanded to the great rolling hills sculpted by the glaciers on their retreat north. Sometimes we would stay out all night, watching the shooting stars until finally the horizon began to glow golden in the mist.
Shortly after graduating from college, I married a Brooklyn boy. He was and is urban to the core, which consists of egg creams, Nathan’s hot dogs, and pastrami. Nobody loves New York more than he does, and so, once he got his law degree, it was no wonder that we wound up settling in Manhattan where we have lived ever since and raised our two children. It’s said that New Yorkers have a love-hate relationship with their city. Not my husband; his is love-love. I would rate mine as 80-20. My ten-year-old daughter, a chip off the old block (not this block), told us in disgust during one too many visits to the country on a summer weekend that if she had to live in such a boring place, she would “call Dr. Kervorkian.” In fact, my children supplied a good part of the 80 of my “love” percentage, mainly in the contrast they provided between their responses to their environment to what I remembered of my own in the growing-up years. When my cat died, for instance, my friends and I dug a hold in the back yard, said a few words, and covered her up. When my son’s turtle died, I had to go out in the pouring rain at night, and with my son hanging out the window and audibly sobbing, dig a grave in a meager hunk of earth by the street, bury the corpse and hope I wasn’t going to get arrested for defacing public property.
Most of my novels reflect a profound urban consciousness and my connection to marriage, motherhood and writing. I’m not sure what happened with my latest novel, TAKE ME BACK. Perhaps because of a health crisis or because I’m getting older, I am beginning to reflect more personally on my early years. It is set squarely in the countryside of my childhood. It literally takes me back to the house I grew up in and to the people who enriched my life in my earliest most formative years. I loved writing it.