WRITERS ON WRITING; After Two Decades, Returning to the Character Who Started It All



Write about what you know: like me in the mid-70’s, Judith Singer, the hero of that book, was a suburban housewife with two young children, a husband who commuted into the grown-up world of Manhattan and a passion for murder mysteries. I merely devoured them, four or five a week, clearly an unwholesome number; Judith, on the other hand, wanted to solve them.

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The Inspiration for As Husbands Go



She began as someone for whom bravery was defined as electing to wear wide-leg pants in a season of skinny crops.  Was there a way for such a woman not only to think courageously, but to act it? Or was it simply too late? I’ve got a license to daydream.  Being a novelist is the […]

The Inspiration for Past Perfect



Before I wrote Past Perfect, some random ideas were floating around in my head. The first was what a tight grip the past has on the present. For so many of us, a long-ago relationship (a lost love, a callous parent) or an event that happened years earlier (getting fired, being the victim of an […]

The Inspiration for Lily White



Sometimes a character just pops into my head, somewhat clear if not fully formed. That was definitely the case with Judith Singer in Compromising Positions and Steve Brady in Magic Hour. But after I finished my sixth novel (After All These Years), nobody came through that door between my subconscious and my working, writerly brain. Well, so what: […]

The Inspiration for Any Place I Hang My Hat



As novelists tell you any chance we get, writing is a lonely profession. What we do for a living is sit alone in a room and tell ourselves stories. But how did this particular story, Any Place I Hang My Hat, come to be? A couple of months after I’d finished my last novel, I still […]

The Inspiration for After All These Years



Easy to tell. I heard that one of my neighbors, a really nice woman, was heartbroken. It was the old but always heartbreaking story: her husband supposedly “outgrew” her, or at least grew tired of her, and left her for a younger woman. I’d always thought of this man as second-rate and pretentious, never a […]

The Inspiration for Almost Paradise



I had my characters. Nick and Jane, two Wasps. They’d meet in their senior year at Brown. He would be part of an upper-class Manhattan clan, she from a more modest family in Cincinnati, albeit just as dysfunctional, though in a different way. Definitely not from my turf. What was I doing with them, and […]

The Inspiration for Shining Through



Shining Through takes place in the early 1940s. Except for the family history in Almost Paradise, all my earlier books were set in contemporary times. Linda Voss, a legal secretary and protagonist of this novel, came to me almost as I typed the final page of my third book, but I couldn’t figure out what to do with […]

The Inspiration for Red, White and Blue



When I write, character comes first. This time though, two people came into my head and demanded to be in the same novel. I wasn’t sure why: one was Lauren Miller, a woman in her late 20s from New York, a reporter who hasn’t exactly made it to the top of the journalistic heap; she […]

The Inspiration for Magic Hour



This guy wouldn’t leave me alone. He came to me shortly after my second novel. It wasn’t only the question of why a man would want me to write his fictional autobiography, but why this particular man? Steve is a recovering alcoholic, Vietnam veteran, recovering heroin addict, half Protestant, half Catholic homicide cop. Oh, and he grew up on […]