Family Reaction to My Writing

Not very long ago, I wouldn’t have been able to write much about my sister Connie.  She’s nine years older than me and I imagine she didn’t find me particularly interesting when we were young.  I know, though, that she liked the letters I wrote to her at college, for she told me she read them out loud to her friends over lunch.  Once I was away at college myself, I realized how precious those handwritten letters were.

I wasn’t […]

January 12th, 2015|Creative Process|

How I Became Cyrano de Bergerac

Writing in my mother’s voice came in handy when she decided to seek my father’s input on her journal.  They’d been divorced for thirty years, but she still valued his opinion and denied ever having felt anger at him for leaving her.  When she asked me to mail a chapter to him for comment, I wasn’t surprised.  What did take me aback, though, was the tone of the letter she drafted to accompany the material.  It was an attack […]

December 29th, 2014|Creative Process|

My Grandfather was in the Jewish Mafia

From Forever Autumn:  One day during my last year of grammar school, we discovered something about my father that cast a shadow over everything.  It happened during the winter when I was ten and Karyl had just turned nine.  It was a rainy December day and we’d been playing for hours up on the third floor.  Bored with the same old games, we looked in the hall closet to see if we could find anything interesting.  We found a […]

December 22nd, 2014|Family Stories|

The Story Behind the Book

The following article is being featured on my publisher’s webpage this week:

My name is Jo Ivester. I’m 57 years old and live in downtown Austin. I never thought I’d be a Texan. My early years were spent in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, where my father, Leon Kruger, ran his pediatrics practice from an office on the first floor of our home. It was common to do that in the 1950s and 60s. […]

December 15th, 2014|Family Stories|

I’m no expert on the civil rights movement.

When people ask me what my book is about, my standard response is to say that when I was ten years old in 1967, my father transplanted our family from a suburb of Boston to a small, all-black town in Mississippi, where he was the first medical director of a clinic and my mother taught at the local high school. And I was the only white student at my junior high.

It’s an important story and one that gets people’s […]

December 15th, 2014|Creative Process|

Starting with a Single Anecdote

My mother was lost for days, believing that she had completed something worthwhile and convinced that there was nothing more she could do.  Then we had a breakthrough.  “Start with a single anecdote, one that you find exciting to tell, that you know inside out, that you think will move people.  And rewrite it, providing as much detail as you remember.”

Then I suggested the day that she had marched in Mississippi with her students and fellow teachers in memory […]

December 8th, 2014|Creative Process|

My Mother’s Journals

All her life, my mother loved being a storyteller. She had a phenomenal memory and spoke of her children and grandchildren, her nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents. She was the historian of the family and eventually, when everyone else from her generation had passed on, the extended family all begged her to write everything down, fearing that otherwise, the stories would be lost.

It wasn’t until she’d been retired from teaching for over fifteen years that […]

December 1st, 2014|Creative Process|

Writing in My Mother’s Voice

Sharing a writing project with my mother was a remarkable experience. It allowed our relationship to grow in a way that would otherwise not have been possible. It prompted me to spend over a thousand hours listening while she told and re-told all the family anecdotes. More than that, however, it pushed our relationship to a new level as I constantly asked her how various incidents had made her feel. As we worked together, her stories grew from simply […]

November 24th, 2014|Creative Process|

Why did my mother place my father on a pedestal?

It’s great that my mother thought so highly of my father.  Makes me feel good in some ways.  But she did more than think highly of him.  She kept him on a pedestal as if he were somehow better than human.  The fact that he was a doctor just added to that belief.

What bothers me is that her worship of him started with a sense of not feeling worthy herself, which goes back to her childhood.  When we discussed […]

November 17th, 2014|Family Stories|

Was my dad a jerk?

When I read over the story of the gnats in my mother’s journal, I’m not sure which of my parents I pity more.  I can understand my father’s perspective.  Here he is in pilot training, risking his life, torn between viewing it as the adventure of a lifetime and being terrified by the stories he hears about what it’s really going to be like.  I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like for a young soldier, twenty years old, […]

November 10th, 2014|Family Stories|