Questions and Answers

Why did you want to write a book about the Holocaust?
I can remember watching television with my father on Saturday afternoons. He is a history buff as well, so he would watch documentaries about Hitler and the Holocaust often. I remember seeing all these images, in black and white, not really comprehending what I was seeing at the time. As I got older, I continued to watch more and more documentaries, watch films and read all the books I could on the subject. I was fascinated by it, how it was all planned down to the very last detail. I couldn’t believe that happened to people, how it was gotten away with. It was simultaneously fascinating and heartbreaking.
How is this book different than other books about the Holocaust?
I am grateful that there are so many books/films/interviews/testimonials on this subject. Each one is told from a different perspective, and it’s important to keep this story going. My book is fiction with historical undertones, so it is 90% my imagination and 10% historical facts that have been researched, double-checked and triple-checked for accuracy. This book is different because I’ve read a lot of books on the subject, but none of them are quite like this one. This story is about family, post-traumatic stress, love, loss, a well-hidden secret, a reunion, jealousy, insecurity, forgiveness, acceptance, respect and loyalty; it’s about healing and reaching out for help and facing deep fears. It spans through three generations of strong women and the men that stood, and continue to stand, by their side.
Am I Jewish? Do I have the right to write this book?
Yes, someone actually asked me these questions! The truth is, I’m adopted. I have no idea what my biological heritage is. To me, it doesn’t matter ~ compassion, empathy, and interest are not religion-based. For that reason, I feel very strongly that I had every right to write this book, and it was an honor to do so.
Where did the passion for writing come from?
I think my passion for writing is an extension for my passion and love of reading. I was always “that girl” in school who couldn’t wait for English class, to do book reports, and write reports for all my classes. I remember in high school we had to read “In Cold Blood” and write a paper on whether or not we believed in capital punishment. I turned in a 13-page, typed report. I worked so hard and couldn’t wait to get the paper back with a nice big “A” at the top. I got the paper back for sure, but it had a nice big “F” on the top. I couldn’t believe it! My father called the school, there was a meeting, and eventually I got my “A.”

In April of 2013, I decided to take a writing class, just for fun. Our first assignment was to write five pages of a book we’d like to write. At that moment, I made an internal deal with myself. If I got good feedback on that assignment I was going to go for it, I was going to keep going and write this book. The feedback was amazing! And here we are … a little over two years later. What a journey this has been!

Is writing a book hard? What was my process?
Writing the first draft was an absolute joy! I love doing research, learning more, creating and watching the characters come to life. Writing the second draft was a lot of work. A lot of work, but reading my story now, I know I made the right changes, took out the fluff and really love the finished product. My research, notes and thoughts are all handwritten, but the actual story is typed on the laptop. Everything is backed up on the flash drive. My favorite way to write is to put on some headphones and see where the music and my imagination end up.

For the most part, my writing is mapped out in my mind and I write from there. For instance, I knew I wanted to write about the Holocaust, I knew I wanted to write about a survivor and there would be a reunion of some sort. One day in the car, driving home from work, I was listening to the Les Miserables soundtrack and “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” came on – while listening to that song, Malka was created!

Do you write every day?
Not on the laptop, no. I do have a notebook that I keep my research in and write down thoughts and scenes in, so I do that every day very consistently. It keeps the juices flowing, and it helps when I’m out somewhere and an idea pops into my head, the notebook is right there with me so I don’t “lose” the idea or scene.
Do you hang out with other authors?
Yes! Recently, I became I member of the New Hampshire Writer’s Project. What a wonderful group of people! I have been going to their events, and I feel so at home talking with these like-minded people ~ they just ‘get it’ when I talk about technique, or ideas, or challenges. A very supportive and encouraging group of people – If you are in New Hampshire and you’re a writer, you need to join this group!
What’s next?
I am currently working on my second novel, “Patchwork,” and it’s a collection of short stories. I have some appearances coming up as well! September 16th I will be at the Author’s Fair at the Portsmouth Public Library from 6-8pm. Saturday, September 19th I will be at the Hooksett Old Home Days at the Author’s Booth, which will be right next to the Hooksett Public Library’s booth. There will be readings and signings as well.

On October 3rd I start teaching a Creative Writing course at the Dover Adult Learning Center. It runs for 8 weeks, every Saturday from 9am – 12pm. Like to write? Join me! Contact Info: Darlene@dalc-online.org to register.