The characters in Becoming Herself are more fiction than fact. What is true: my maternal grandmother was Margaret George who immigrated from Ireland as a child and was adopted by John & Elizabeth Meyers. She married Eli, lived in Sheldon, New York, was the church organist and died tragically in a kitchen fire in 1936. My mother Eva, her 6th child, remembered the book burning during World War I.
This story was inspired by my grandmother; it is not her memoire. While some of the names are true, all the characters, their virtues and their flaws are products of my imagination. This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.
When it came time to research the history of the time, my reliance on the internet was astounding. Facts about the Easter Uprising in Dublin, the New York Suffragette movement, the hierarchy of hens in the flock, could be researched without ever leaving my office. Having visited Ireland on several occasions, my memory has a reservoir of tales of the ‘little people’ and the beauty and unbridled majesty of the Irish coast. You need only to visit this island once to be charmed by its landscape and its people. The same is true of the rolling green hills that grace the Western New York landscape. The harsh winters are softened by the joys that each spring brings. You find resiliency and stalwartness in the people who call upstate their home and can be described as being ‘the salt of the earth.’ I am proud to have roots in both these lands.
If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a community to bring a book into the hands of a reader.
My ‘book community” is made up of women, most of whom I have been friends with for so long that I cannot tell you the day we met. I only know that without them, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am. Thank you for taking the time to listen, to critique and to encourage. I am blest to have you–Candi, Carol, Colleen, Erin, Kathy, Louise, Mary Ellen, Sandra, Sandy and Rolaine– in my life. To quote Margaret: when I am with these women, I can breathe.
My introduction of what it takes to write, publish and publicize a book was guided by women who are smart, savvy and know the business. Editors Joan Dempsey and Dawna Kempner were encouraging with my manuscript while providing content guidance and grammatical corrections. Publisher Stephanie Larkin of Red Penguin Books took my typed pages and magically turned them into an honest-to-goodness book. Publicist and bookstore owner, Carol Hoenig knows how to get a book and its author noticed. My thanks to you all.
There are no words to express my gratitude to my husband Russ, my partner in this journey called life. Your love fills my heart each and every day. You were the first, the second and sometimes the third reader and aptly assumed the role of time-line checker. With you at my side, everything is possible.