Now, on to things of a more serious nature.
When I was in high school, I took a course called "Writers' Craft". Basically, our teacher told us that we were supposed to write what we knew. All I wanted to write was fantasy. I felt this was what I knew. It felt like the most natural thing to me.
I had been raised on stories and superstitions passed down to me by my bubbie. I was told not to line up your feet so that they faced a doorway, or the dybbuks could drag you off into the night. I was scolded if I whistled in the house because this was bad luck. I was told stories of small European towns filled with foolish wisemen, and truly wise beggars. It speaks to her power as a storyteller that I retained every word of her tales.
To me, talking animals, enchanted objects, magical crones, and dybbuks were my idea of fantasy. So, imagine my teenage surprise when I went to the fantasy section of the local bookstore and found novels full of wizards, fairies, and elves. Don't get me wrong. I loved these books passionately. I still do. Yet, I hungered for a book with a mythology I identified with. I wanted characters who had a history like mine.
I decided that I would take matters into my own hands. If I couldn't find it, I would write it myself. So it is that The Strings of the Violin came to be. I like to think of it as my own little love letter to the stories of my bubbie's homeland in what was once Czechoslovakia and Poland. Now that I have children of my own, I have every intention of passing the same stories down to them.
Write what you know indeed.