Photograph of Marian D. Schwartz, author.

I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Reading was my escape from the legendary Buffalo winters and probably contributed to my becoming a writer.

While I was in graduate school at the University of Buffalo I began writing poetry, some of which was published in small literary magazines. The first sentence in Realities – My children are gambling – was the first line of a poem that grew into a novel.  It was gratifying to see Realities published, not only in the United States but in England and Sweden, where it was a selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club.

The idea for a novel can come from anywhere. The Last Season, The Story of a Marriage, started with an image of three middle-aged adults sitting at a dinner table, a married couple and an unmarried man. When the husband asked the man what his intentions were, the fellow replied, “I intend to marry your wife.” The image was a gift, and I had to run with it.

Years ago I climbed the Great Wall of China. When I reached the top, I saw men standing with their shoulders back and their chests held high to have their pictures taken next to a red rectangular sign that had Chinese writing on it. I didn’t have a clue as to what the writing said. Later in the day I asked my Chinese guide about the sign. He laughed. “It says ‘You are a man when you have climbed the Great Wall of China.'”

I think fiction should be as surprising as that sign.

Grimm’s Fairytales