Nov 21 2014
Journalist and Kveller contributor Sarah Wildman is the author of the recently released “Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind” (Riverhead Books, 2014). Over the six years it took Wildman to research and then write the book, she also became the mother of two girls, aged 5 ¾ and 17 months. She chatted with me about the motivations and challenges of chasing down this extraordinary love story on both sides of the Atlantic.
How would you characterize your relationship with your grandfather as a child?
My grandfather was larger than life, the patriarch in every way we think of that word. He was incredibly warm, incredibly charismatic, and he made everyone feel that he or she was the only person in the room. He used to kiss my hand, like a Viennese gentleman. I was in awe of him, a bit.
How did you happen to find out about his paramour, Valy, and what drew you to learn more about her? Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 14 2014
It was the 80s when I started dating my husband. It was a simpler time. Not just because we were younger and just falling in love, but also because it was an era that, in my opinion, was more conducive to love and courting.
My husband is fantastic, but when it comes to expressing his feelings, he’s generally not a man of many words. I guess he leaves that to me. Yet as I sit here surrounded by his old letters and cards, nostalgically reading and rereading his words from almost three decades ago, I realize how untrue that statement is.
My husband’s handwritten love letters, from an era before email and text messaging, were filled with emotion, with meaning, with love, with yearning, and mostly, with vulnerability. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 18 2014
Last spring, my son managed to smash his head into the corner of a bookcase, requiring staples. Upon returning home from urgent care, with his head wrapped in gauze, he gleefully declared that he was “King Gauze.” I seized on the moment–finally, here was my chance to get him involved in my passion: playwriting.
I belong to a playwriting group that sometimes meets at our home. Therefore, my son has known the majority of my fellow playwrights since he was born. And, as he’s gotten older, he’s wanted to stay downstairs to listen to the work being read out loud, none of which would be appropriate for his ears. He has been frustrated by this and by the fact that I won’t let him read any of my work, either.
But with the emergence of “King Gauze,” we agreed that we would write a play the next day about King Gauze in Gauzeland. And so we did. Not a whole play but three scenes. His cast of characters was enormous and grew as we continued to write. The play took place at the birth of Prince Gauze. King and Queen Gauze were being visited by the whole town, along with some weavers (only later did it occur to me that the weavers idea came from “The Emperor Has No Clothes”). My son dictated the dialogue and I showed him how we were writing stage directions and how different characters said their lines. Read the rest of this entry →
Jan 2 2014
I’m looking back through the old scraps of writing I have saved over the years.
And in the detritus of keystrokes, here is what I find: lines about my mother and watching her die, lines about the family I used to have in all its discombobulated beauty.
Thoughts about the baby boy growing inside me and the little girl who would kiss my big old moon belly. Sarcastic strike-throughs to hide the fear I felt during those months and the boredom that followed when I would spend my days watching shadows crawl across the ceiling.
Notes about the man who would bring me Klondike Bars in the middle of the night when I was eight months pregnant, notes about an occasional date at the sushi place down the street, notes that offer no real insight into what would go wrong just a few short years later. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 4 2013
I know I am not the first person to write a novel with my right hand while changing a diaper with my left. It’s just that when I do, the contents of the novel end up very similar to the contents of the diaper.
“Being here now” is difficult when you have to be in three places at once. But if you have a passion, a day job, and you’re an involved parent, then you must learn to compartmentalize on a dime. You know you’re dealing with a passion when you simply have no choice but to do so. Crystal meth has a limp handshake when compared to the grip of a passion. It’s not a desire; it’s an obsession. It’s an elemental–
“Sarah called me stupid and said my dress is too small!”
“Are you stupid?”
“No.” Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 5 2012
Confucius (allegedly) said: Do a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Who am I to argue with Confucius?
So, that’s precisely what I did. Because I loved television, I studied television in college, and then I went to work in television. I loved to watch figure skating, so I became a television figure skating producer. After my oldest son was born and the travel associated with skating competitions became unmanageable, I switched to working in soap operas–because I loved soap operas. In the meantime, because I loved to read, I also wrote books, primarily figure skating mysteries and romance novels. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 10 2012
I write romance novels. I am unapologetically proud of that fact. Since 1995, I’ve published 13 works of “genre” fiction, including three soap opera tie-ins, five figure skating murder mysteries, and four romance novels, two set in the Regency period, and three contemporaries.
This past year, I got the rights to a majority of them back from their respective publishers, and decided to re-release them on my own, as enhanced multimedia editions. (That’s a fancy way of saying e-books with audio, video, and other extras.)
Alas, re-releasing the books meant re-reading them, since I had to make certain they were good to go from a technical perspective. Now, I happen to be one of those writers who, once my book is on the shelf at Barnes & Noble and Amazon, almost never refer to it again. A) Because I am always convinced that every book is out to kill me during the actual writing process, so we rarely part on good terms. And B) Because when I say that I am proud of my work, I mean in an it-never-sounds-as-good-on-paper-as-it-did-in-my-head-so-honestly-this-book-sucks-but-that-shouldn’t-stop-you-from-buying-it-nonetheless sort of way. Some people can’t stand to hear themselves on an answering machine or to watch themselves on TV. I do not enjoy looking back over past work. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 7 2012
Father’s Day is coming up fast, and we’ve just caught wind of an exciting project from the ladies at the Jewish Women’s Archive that’s all about dads. Your dads, specifically.
For their blog, Jewesses With Attitude, JWA is collecting short blurbs from Jewish women about their fathers, and the role they played in their Jewish identity and development. They also want to add some dad voices to the blog, so they’re seeking guest posts from Jewish fathers, or fathers raising Jewish children. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 30 2012
Me with my parents, not being embarrassing.
Growing up, my biggest fear was that my parents would embarrass me.
This fear wasn’t completely unfounded:
My mom was known to waltz down the produce aisle at Trader Joe’s like the leading lady in a 1950’s musical, sometimes singing in Tagolog, which she learned while serving in the Peace Corps.
And my dad was worse: When he would “bring it,” (his words, not mine, people) on the basketball court at Mar Vista Park, he would insist on playing “skins.” Even when no one else was going shirtless. Bellowing on the court, he would wave his arms in the air, a force of nature that could easily wipe out a 13-year-old’s reputation. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 10 2012
Passover is a time of new beginnings, a time to meditate on themes of slavery and freedom, a time to consider the mitzrayim, or narrow place, where we may find ourselves. The hametz crumbs that usually litter my dining room have been cleared out, but they were replaced by matzah crumbs just as quickly. The house cleaning that took so much of my time last week was important, but the effects were fleeting, and my internal hametz remains. The details may differ from person to person, but we all have our struggles, including toxic relationships, family difficulties, physical and mental illness, and employment and financial stress. Many of the challenges of life are beyond our control, but what we can change, the hametz we can begin to clear during the Passover holiday, has to do with our own personal attitudes and behaviors. Read the rest of this entry →