Wednesday, October 5

I have just arrived home from picking up copies of Arriving: 1909–1919—something I have
waited almost 60 years to do. From as early as I can remember, I have wanted to write a book,
and I believe that my trilogy has been in my head, my heart, and my soul for a very long
time. My family often teases me with, “Just say it! Don’t make a story out of it!” But I always
aspired to be a storyteller, and now with the help of a wonderful team, especially Faith Farthing
and Teresa Wang, my dream has come to fruition.

I remember talking to my husband and children about my desire to write a novel; never did I
consider that it would eventually become a trilogy, until one Christmas when my daughter Sara
gave me four small corkboards. Puzzled, I asked her what I was to do with them. She said, “Use
them like a bulletin board. Every time you have an idea for your book, write it down on a recipe
card and put it up.” Thus was the beginning of Arriving, and over the next seven years, Sara
never stopped believing that I would finish the Understanding Ursula trilogy. Whenever I
doubted, she commented, “Mom, I have never known you not to finish whatever you started.”

Once I started, I seldom experienced writer’s block. When I needed to think through a particular
scene, I went for a walk in nature and I often had to rush home quickly to write down what had
come to me. I invariably write to opera music. Early in the process, I learned that when I was
relaxed and became a part of the characters about whom I was writing, the muse would come
and the words would flow. I am never lonely when I write; it seems as though my characters are
present with me, and I can see myself at the kitchen table, in the garden, in the church, or in the

As I think about my trilogy, I realize that many of my characters are very reflective, if not
intuitive—perhaps because they were so in touch with nature and God. I suspect that my
inspiration came from God, nature, and the works of the great classical artists who played in the
background as I wrote.


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