Book club members frequently ask “What challenges did you face when writing books about your family?”
There should be no illusions. Writing a book about family is complicated. It can be controversial, often touching emotions that are raw and personal. At least it is a little easier to write about a past generation. There are fewer family members still standing to offer their criticisms and observations.
I think anytime one unearths old relatives and attempts to bring them back to life on the written page, it is safe to assume that there will be many opinions, impressions, and recollections to sort through.
That is a risk the author takes. Not everyone will agree. Family members will view the past through different lenses – and certainly with different emotions.
I can argue that having different views of the past creates the kaleidoscope that history requires. Memoirs and biographies are rarely intended to be instant replays or videotapes. Stories, because they are told and retold, are subject to the teller’s interpretation.
Obviously one needs to be sensitive and respectful to the feelings of others. And, of course, there is a balance and a true historian (which I do not claim to be) does not have the luxury of rewriting history to accommodate the personal sensitivities of others.
As I wrote my books, I had to keep reminding myself of what I was trying to do. There was and remains a very distinct purpose to my writing. I want to use my family’s story to shine a light on the immigration debate taking place in the world today – and I only have my family’s history to offer.
My parents and grandparents lived in a different era. They were part of a different generation and were faced with a different set of circumstances . What they had in common with many of today’s refugees was that they were trying to make their way to America hoping to find safety, security, and opportunity for their family.
By sharing my family’s stories in such in a personal way I hope readers will experience the anxiety, fears, uncertainty, isolation, hope, disappointment, and dreams of those forced to leave their homelands for reasons none of us will ever begin to understand. Perhaps we can all learn from my family’s determined perseverance – how they put one foot in front of the other one step at a time.
If I can craft books that make readers feel that they were there in the moment, that they were there living this immigrant story, then I have accomplished what I set out to do – to make us all remember that refugees are the victims. Let us never cast them as the enemy.
“One More Moon is a lovely memoir that was a delight to read. It’s everything that an Indie book should be. It’s written by a skilled author with a smoothly flowing style. It has a strong story-line that held my attention from start to finish. And it has obviously been very carefully edited.”
Denzil The BookOwl January 24, 2018
Many of my friends have asked “what drives you to want to write a book?” After-all, I am at a pretty good place in life – retired, healthy, happy, energetic – certainly not lacking. Why would I want to spend most of my days (and many of my nights) working on a second book? I never planned to become an author. This wasn’t my life’s work. This was never my training and certainly not my profession. In high school I was the guy sent to shop class – never advanced English.
The thing is I have more things that I want to say! I suspect that most of us do. That’s why I put so much energy into writing One More Moon. I know that telling a story is a wonderful way to convey a thought.
I want to leave something “of me” behind for my future generations. I am convinced that they won’t care too much about my stuff (I am sure that they won’t know what to do with it.) But, my words? My words won’t take much space (and they won’t require dusting!) I hope my words will live on. I want my words to continue to be heard. I want the chance to make a difference in the lives of my grandchildren’s children.
There are many things I care deeply about. I want my future generations to have a sense of where we came from. I want them to understand the struggles that led to where they are with their lives. I want to pass on certain values.
My two books tell the story of refugees – people who were forced to leave their homelands, not because of their faults, but because of the arrogant and dangerous self-righteousness of others.
I want the words that I leave on this earth to remind the future generations that everyone (no matter the differences in our genes, our DNA, our circumstance, our beliefs) is entitled to respect and dignity – that we all belong to the same race – the human race. I want them to care and pay attention when political leaders prey on our differences. I want others to know that we should never be defined that way. We must be defined by our similarities. Sometimes that is not an easy thing to do – but that is what we have to do to make this world continue to work. What we share in common is a thread that should never be broken.
That’s why I wrote One More Moon!