Aunt Sarah at the end of her life but still the best storyteller I ever knew. I miss her.
Here’s my Aunt Sarah in 1999, all decked out in colors that match the cover of the novel she inspired. She was living in a nursing home at the time and became something of a celebrity, signing copies for her many visitors.
In the early 1990s, my aunt told me her story, and I tape-recorded everything. What a gift--and at just the right time in my life. I was hungry to know about the past, and she was hungry to talk about it.
We laughed. We cried. Afterwards, I transcribed every word, internalizing her voice until it became my precocious child narrator, Serene Spirer.
Aunt Sarah was keen to read the chapters as I wrote them and kind about the many liberties I took with her memories. She said I made her childhood much more exciting than it had ever been.
At long last, after several years of writing and rewriting, I put the book in her hands.