Brattleboro, VT, the vibrant literary community that once honored Saul Bellow, hosts the Literary Festival every year. Too late to submit an application to speak at this fabled event, I opted instead to buy a table at the attractive Main Street building, with the title “Strolling of the Heifers” (depicting an actual event that happens each year)There I displayed my wares: my new novel Beguiled, my 2 non-fiction books, Women Who Could… and Did and Women Riders Who Could… and Did, and also some of my encaustic art.
On Day 1, I met many local and not so local people, including people from Write Action, a grass-roots writers’ organization that’s been around since 2000. They asked me to read from Beguiled that evening, so I traveled back to Brattleboro to join 10 other local novelists and poets.
I’ve gotten to enjoy these events, where I can use my improvisational acting skills to read a chapter of the story. I have to convey a Yiddish accent and sometimes a Russian accent, as my protagonist’s family were Russian-Jewish immigrants, who spoke Yiddish.In writing Beguiled I researched the accents, which is easy to do on the Internet, since I had little exposure personally to Yiddish-speaking people. But, reading the few Yiddish words and trying to replicate the English accent of one who speaks Yiddish is tricky.
I also met a man named Barry Kit, who started a project called The Ephemera Archive for American Studies, which is a free-use research resource of 300,000 pieces that might be helpful to me in identifying a new era to use as a site for my next historical novel. I will update my quest as soon as I can visit and immerse myself in this fascinating archive.