I wrote it pretty quickly – maybe in a few days, and then started revising it over several weeks. I think it took me about four to five months to have a draft I liked enough to show others.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
We spent a lot of time around my grandmother when I was growing up and then as an adult, I watched her age and saw how she slowed down, her sight got worse, and her hearing. I knew this was difficult for her, as she had been so active and vibrant when she was younger. I started thinking about how we all grow old and what if we could look at these losses (loss of sight, loss of hearing, loss of mobility) as positive in some way? That was the seed of this book.
Did you have a close relationship with your grandmother(s) like the girl in the book?
My maternal grandmother, who inspired the book, was also sort of an exotic woman to me growing up. She and my grandfather traveled to foreign countries and had lots of things in their house from these countries. Beautiful carvings and furniture from India, trinkets from Afghanistan, art from Brazil. Our favorite was the stuffed piranha they kept on a shelf by their front door!
What inspired the imagery for the book?
This is such a great question! I took each sense (hearing, touch, taste, etc) and played around with what came to mind. Sometimes something grabbed me right away and I stuck with it, other times I know I played with a few images before one felt right. It’s been awhile since I wrote the book so I can’t give specific examples, but that’s what I remember.
Did you have negative feelings about aging? If so, did writing this book help you understand/deal with them?
I think the idea of aging can be scary because there are so many things I want to do and I don’t like the thought that I might be limited someday. But I’m already limited in middle age and I’ve adapted. Writing this book was definitely a way for me to come to terms with my fears and also some of my attitudes about older people. I remember feeling very annoyed as a child when I had to repeat things over and over because my grandmother hadn’t heard me. Or I’d have to listen to the same story from her because she didn’t remember that she’d already told me. Now, as an adult, I have such respect for those who have had a lot of time on this earth and who have seen and experience things I will never see or experience. I don’t mind repeating myself when I have to with an older person because I know that one day that will be me and I hope people won’t mind repeating themselves! Same with listening to a story again and again. If it’s meaningful to that person, why not hear it again? Maybe I’ll hear something different this time. Or maybe I won’t but I’m giving them the respect they deserve by listening politely and responding.