Dimitri, the main character in Ivan’s Wife, is a complex man. He struggles with panic and mental illness. Trying to find the source, he thinks back to his childhood and the brother he lost.
The only one who understood was my brother, Alexander. I confided in him at twelve, told him about my spells and the delirium that followed. We’d walk along the Moskva River, near the homestead, talking for hours. I never felt judged or insane with him. He never offered me an explanation for the spells but he understood. At times, I wondered if he had them too. I hadn’t imagined how his brows would knit together and his eyes would twitch a little when he listened. But he never said anything, he’d just assure me that I wasn’t crazy and all would be revealed in time. Alexander had an inward grace, calm and reassuring.
Certain months are just harder than most. February is my dreaded month and my heroine, Katherine Hathaway, agrees. In this scene from my soon-to-be-released novel, Brooklyn Bitters, she foresees the hardest month of her life:
I sipped hot tea, stretched out on a recliner, gazing out my bedroom window. February had arrived with a whimper. The vivid colors of fall were now raked or withered, and gray clouds and misty rain cast their gloom over the city. A few Christmas trees laid decaying on the curb and the neighbor a few doors down begrudgingly leaned an old ladder against his house to remove the holiday lights. All of the tragedies in my life happened in February, twenty-eight days holding my breath and waiting for it to be over.
And here we are, in February. It can’t be a coincidence that February carries such a wallop.
Brooklyn Bitters is in the hands of my editor, Julia McVey. She’s a talented eagle-eye editor with a creative style.
I’m looking forward to getting Brooklyn Bitters in print. I had fun with the characters and appreciated help from Regina Farmer, my muse for Kate. She knew her, understood what motivated her, and was an inspiration.
I’m now immersed in my next novel, Old Coattails. Of course, the characters of Brooklyn are still with me. The heroine, Kate, visits her late friend and brother-in-law, Glenn, regularly. Over the years, she has developed an unusual attachment to his cemetery.
The English ivy, climbing along the fence, covered the latch on the cemetery gate. The plant gave me a rash every time I touched even the smallest leaf. The vine originated from a nineteenth-century church just outside the graveyard. Nobody maintained the grounds so the ivy took over, suffocating everything in its track. At least, it hadn’t reached beyond the third tree; although it was only a matter of time. Why Stacey chose this cemetery to bury Glenn, I wasn’t sure. She claimed there were fewer visitors so she could visit her husband in private. It didn’t make sense; prior to Glenn’s interment, there had not been anyone laid to rest here in over one-hundred years.
Twenty women were laid to rest in the cemetery. Their headstones only bore their name, date of birth and death. No epitaphs. A tiny cross was engraved in the stone so I assumed they were members of the abandoned church. Twelve of the women were buried next to a family member of the same general age, likely the husband. The remaining eight women were alone and had lived from ten to eighty two years. Long lives. I imagined that someone may have felt like me, going through the motions of life, reaching for more but hindered by duty. Perhaps a woman had reached the age of forty and realized she’d let the years go by without finding a partner.