Saturday, November 7, 2009

I’ve been sick. I’ve been sick for the past two or three weeks -- it feels like months. I haven’t been sick enough to feel bad, but sick enough to not want to make it worse by going out for my regular run/walks.
It didn’t stop me from going to Cincinnati with Donna or our stopping at the B&B I wrote about last time. But I spent the time coughing into my elbow and blowing my nose into a growing stack of Kleenex. (I’m speaking figuratively, you understand, since I don’t want you to think that I actually go around dragging used tissues from state to state.)
But the inability, or at least my unwillingness, to go for my daily run/walks has been a great loss. It’s my encounters with my “stalking” victims that generate ideas, and I haven’t had a new idea in two weeks.
But my new book, A Ship in the Harbor has just been released by the publisher, Academy Chicago. It’s a direct sequel to Mother and Me: Escape from Warsaw 1939, its opening scene being the closing scene of the first book, where my mother and I limp into Budapest’s posh Bristol Hotel, disguised as peasants and quite the worse for wear, after our trek through the Carpathian Mountains. Mother, who had stayed at the Bristol many times before the war, can’t resist a little joke. Positive that the desk clerk won’t recognize her in her disguise, she demands a room.
The desk clerk tells her there are no vacancies.
Mother retorts, “Nonsense, the Bristol always has vacancies.” At which point the desk clerk falls into her trap.
“Madam has stayed with us before?” he asks in his haughtiest tone.
“Of course, many times.”
“And under what name?”
She tells him her name, he does a double take, and they hug across the counter, to the horror of the guests and staff around the lobby.
Mother quickly contacts her Budapest friends and tells them about our escape. She is immediately lionized as a “heroine,” and I, having just turned eight, am miffed that I’m not equally lionized, since I walked every mile that she walked and faced every danger that she did. While Mother is asked, time and time again, to tell her story, I’m put to bed with my teddy bear.
But Mother’s celebrity soon hits a snag in the person of a Polish intelligence officer who reminds her that Hungary is a Nazi-sympathizing country, and she had bragged to the border security man that, when we reached America, she was going to write a book exposing Nazi atrocities. The Nazis, the man tells her, are not going to want her to reach America. Mother and I need to go into hiding, until he can get her a new passport and a visa to a more neutral country.
But asking Mother to give up her fifteen minutes of fame and her comfortable hotel room is like asking Jack Benny to surrender his wallet. Mother pooh-poohs the warning, and I begin seeing Nazis behind every tree.
I could tell you more, but you’ll enjoy reading it for yourself. I don’t know how many stores have it in stock yet, but they can all order it for you, and I know that Amazon has it. But, if you haven’t read Mother and Me, I suggest that you read that first.
There is still another sequel coming. Its working title is Loves of Yulian, and it takes place in beautiful Rio de Janeiro. I fall in love with an older woman – she is twenty-two to my eight – and Mother falls in love with a handsome Brazilian and has to decide between her heart and the book she wants to publish in America. I don’t know when it will be out.