I raved about Sonia Taitz's novel in my book column at Shoptopia.com, and I'm absolutely honored to have her here talking about the writing process. I can't thank you enough, Sonia!
LOVE, LOSS -- AND WHAT I WROTE
People tell me I’m making up for lost time. My just-released novel, IN THE KING’S ARMS, was nearly published two decades years ago (the deal fell through). The last book I wrote, MOTHERING HEIGHTS, came out in the 90’s. Where have I been, and what have I done, and how can I catch up now?
The thing is, I’ve really been here all along. My body, mind and heart have all been avidly involved in the raising of three kids. When MOTHERING HEIGHTS came out, I was still able to juggle two children and my writing. But being on television in makeup and heels to promote my book never felt as right as wiping off the paint, kicking the high-heels back to the closet, and getting down on the floor to cuddle or play. By the time the paperback edition of MOTHERING HEIGHTS came out, I had three lively children – Emma, Gabriel, and Phoebe – all under the age of five. My housekeeper quit in dismay (to be fair, the place looked like the lovechild of Disneyland and Hoarders). Then my father fell ill with terminal cancer and a year later, my mother did, too. It felt like the easiest and most right thing in the world to put on my sweats and grab some facecloths and be useful in the most anonymous and thankless way. The thanks, actually, was there, but was unspoken; it was the love between all of us. As I said in MOTHERING HEIGHTS, “what children take from us, they give…. We become people who feel more deeply, question more deeply, hurt more deeply, and love more deeply.” The same is true when we take care of our aging parents.
I popped my head out in the 00’s. Both my father and mother, by then, had passed away, and I had been there with them, invigilating even their deathbeds. I knew they were at peace. My children were growing up happy, good and strong. Eventually, I started writing again, first a play, and then a draft of a new novel, and then – when my parents had been gone for many years -- a memoir about growing up as the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Perhaps taking care of the helpless or wounded had begun with this unique childhood. As an immigrant’s daughter, being there for my parents -- who had survived death camps and refugee camps, and who came to America without money or language – had always felt right to me. As I began writing again, I also dusted off my long-dormant law degree, working with foster children and with victims of rape and domestic violence. Gradually, slowly, I emerged back into the world of makeup and heels. Well, lip gloss and two-inch heels. But I emerged.
IN THE KING’S ARMS (the story of the daughter of survivors and her romance with the son of anti-Semites) is now published. Another novel is being buffed and polished, and my memoir will be out next year. I’m also planning to bring MOTHERING HEIGHTS out as an ebook. So I’m guess I’m back. But I never left. I just went somewhere beautiful, worthy and rich – and am a better writer for it.