My dad was kissed by Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe but he said my mother was more beautiful than either of them. He was right. I have pictures to prove it. My mother was a gorgeous blonde from Poland. My father a boy from Brooklyn. When my mother died, my father wrote a love poem to her every day for a year. Romance is in my DNA. My wife is a gorgeous brunette born in the USSR. She hates my writing and she and I disagree 100% on politics. But after many years of marriage, we’re crazier about each other than ever. The final pages of MOURNING DOVE, my novel, include a diamond ring being slipped onto a beloved’s finger.
My hopes and dreams were baked in before I turned five. When my father was a teenager, the Philadelphia Phillies offered him a contract as a pitcher, but World War II ended his baseball dreams. As a toddler, I used to watch him pound out sentences using two fingers on an old manual typewriter. Then he would tear the paper from the machine, scrunch it into a ball, and throw it to the floor harder than he ever threw a baseball. He did that hundreds of times and never got to his novel’s second page.
In my biggest game as a pitcher in little league, my best friend hit two home runs against me, ending my team’s playoff hopes. I was not good enough. But in graduate school, I studied creative writing under J.R. Salamanca, whose first two novels became major motion pictures, one starring Elvis Presley; the other Warren Beatty, actors my father never met, despite his years in the movie business. Salamanca bought a yacht, traveled around the world, then ten years later drove in a beaten-up Mustang to a writer-in-residence job at the University of Maryland, where he was chairman of my Master’s thesis committee. That’s the sort of life my Dad admired. At the age of twenty-two, I wrote a short novel and had it published by a division of Random House. I type, with all ten fingers, at more than 120 words per minute.
I was born in Mount Sinai Hospital on Miami Beach, Florida. We moved away when I was one, but I was back every summer to be with my grandparents in Miami. I played with lizards that were often scurrying about in their backyard. I watched bananas grow on my grandmother’s banana trees so I could pick them and eat them when they ripened. I consider Miami my hometown. South Florida, including Miami, is built on porous limestone, which is frequently described as “similar to Swiss cheese.” This means that today, due to sea-level rise, king tides raise the water level not just in the ocean but also in the streets and back yards of Miami, even on sunny days. The rising water destroys septic tanks, so back yards such as the one I played in as a child are often filled with raw sewage. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote UNCLE TOM’S CABIN to end slavery. I began writing MOURNING DOVE to end climate shit.
My big sister hated me. Almost from the day I started to walk, she would get me to follow her, lead me to places I didn’t know, and intentionally lose me. If I was lucky, strangers would see me crying and come to help. She lost me once when we were on vacation. I couldn’t tell the strangers how to reach my parents. It was many hours before both sides called the police. My sister took great pride in being the bad kid. She enjoyed, and still enjoys, being in trouble. She would never do her homework. I can’t help but be her opposite. I am the good kid. I always do my homework. As homework for my climate novel, I have read more than 100 books about climate change, many by scientists. I have connected on social media with more than 35,000 climate experts, and I communicate one-to-one with many of them. I’ve learned that climate shit is the very least of the climate problems.
My mother was driving our family car and tears were streaming down her face. I was in the back seat; my sister in the front. She asked Mom what was wrong. Our mother said her favorite aunt had just passed away. My sister asked if she was “that aunt.” My mother said yes, adding that her aunt had never been the same in the years since “it” happened. Even though I was very young, I somehow knew my mother did not want me to know what she was talking about. I complained loudly, as only a toddler can. My sister told me what a bayonet was. Then she said that our aunt had been carrying her baby son in her arms. An evil soldier stabbed the baby with his bayonet and killed our little cousin in the arms of his mother. I had trouble comprehending this, and let my mother know it. She said this was in Auschwitz and tried to explain to me what death camps were, what the Holocaust was, and how they affected me and my family, personally. I was younger than three years old. This is one of my very first memories.
From my climate-change homework, I know that it is physically impossible to prevent the oceans from rising at least a foot within the next thirty years. The oceans are too big. There is too much heat. It cannot be stopped. There are millions of people in South Florida. All will have to move to higher ground. Coastal cities throughout the world will have similar problems. Hundreds of millions of people will have to flee to cities that have no flooding, drought, super storms, or extreme heat. These hundreds of millions will need jobs, homes, food, water, electricity, and medicine. The cities they move to will have enough to take care of their own people but not much more.
The climate migrants will become hungry, thirsty, and diseased, and will experience their loved ones dying. They will see the non-migrants with jobs, homes, food, water, and medications. The migrants will become increasingly desperate just to stay alive. They will steal what they need, fighting and killing those who get in their way. The non-migrants will fight to keep what they have. Governments will try to keep the peace and fail. Governments will try to make sure food, water, electricity, and medicines continue going where they are needed and fail. People will kill people. Many will be armed. Those without guns will use whatever weapons they can find. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a novel that started a war and ended slavery. I’m writing a novel to mitigate climate disaster and keep babies from being stabbed to death in their mothers’ arms.
This long biography is part of the pitch for my novel, MOURNING DOVE. The images in this post are self-portrait pencil sketches. The one above was drawn from photos of me from when I was three. The one below is what I look like today as I see myself in a mirror.
I am very confident that a top literary agent will represent me and will sell MOURNING DOVE to a great publishing company. To follow the progress of MOURNING DOVE, and see whether my confidence is justified, please friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on LinkedIn. Thanks.