One of the difficult things about being a writer is avoiding the cliché. I mean, the cliché is cliché for a reason; it happens over and over again until it’s expected, obvious, unexciting. In order to avoid making any of the more obvious remarks, the cliché, I’m not going to mention here that I’ve known I wanted to be a writer ever since I held my first chubby-sized red pencil in my unskilled little fingers. Oops, sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
The fascination of creating words from letters which others would read and gather information from was magical to me from the very start. The allure of such quasi-wizardry has never diminished. I’ve chased it away a time or two in fits of being taxed with bigger-than-me life circumstances, or an ever increasing pile of rejection slips, or both, but it has never completely vanished.
I became obsessed with history within a couple of years of learning about the alluring scrawls of pencil over paper. I’ll never forget when it happened. I was eight years old and the TV was on. Mom was on the couch, my older brother was on the wood floor snapping together one of his glue-free model cars. I brought a coloring book to my mom to show her the progress I’d made – I don’t remember what I was coloring – and there on the TV were the most lurid images one could imagine; Naked, bony people marching deathly slow in endless lines. Limp, pale bodies stacked in trenches, lines of starving people with their faces pushed against fences watching smoke stream endlessly from tall stacks.
I asked my mom about all of it. I asked her how it happened, why it happened. How the people let it happen. I asked her everything I could think of to ask. I have been reading histories ever since, always asking, forever seeking, searching for cause and effect, for villains and heroes.
I write biographies and profiles celebrating the heroic, attempting to encourage people to celebrate the good people in our lives. The heroes recorded in books both popular and obscure are not always as obvious as Arthur Schindler, Irena Sendler, or Chiune Sugihara, but indeed the bravery of these three and those like them should be remembered and their courage shared, because history is full of terrifying and wondrous events and those who bore witness to the emergence of the heroic.
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The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.Walt Disney
It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.J. K. Rowling
Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.Dr. Seuss