Get to Know…Dana Fitzwater Cornell

MyMother'sRing_Front Cover“Get to Know…” has returned! And to re-kick things off, let’s chat with an author I already knew from real life! Real life? Yes, there is such a thing.

Meet Dana Fitzwater Cornell. She recently released her debut historical novel, My Mother’s Ring, and since we used to work at a newspaper together, I can genuinely assure you she’s an excellent writer.

Welcome, Dana!

Tell us about your book, please.

“My Mother’s Ring” is a novel detailing one man’s life before, during, and after the Holocaust.

Why did you want to write about the Holocaust?

I’ve always been interested in this time period because my great aunt’s family spent time in concentration and labor camps, including Auschwitz, because they were Jewish sympathizers (living in Poland). Also, I wanted to write a book that was deep, powerful, and educational – one that changes people’s perspective of their own life and teaches them about an important time in history. It’s a tribute to the millions of victims who were never able to tell their stories.

What sort of research did you undertake to ensure the historical accuracy?

I spent more than a year reading many dozens of Holocaust books, including autobiographies and survivor testimonies. I also researched the time period, culture, and camps. My research crafted what I chose to write about.

What’s the book’s opening line? Why did you start there?

I started with the prologue: “I have kept my secret silent for far too long. I have neither acknowledged nor shared my past, my former life.”

I began with that line because many survivors find it too difficult to talk about their experiences. Even after decades, the emotional, psychological, and physical wounds are too raw for many survivors to talk about.

Please share a writing tip you’ve found helpful.

After you finish writing your first draft, step away from it for at least a week or two before you sit down and comb through it.

Definitely. Let’s pretend you’re casting this book as a movie. Who would you like to portray these characters?

Wow, I have no idea. That’s a great question!

“Talented unknowns” it is. How did you make the transition from journalist to fiction writer? How do your journalistic and fiction styles compare?

It was an easy transition for me as I’ve written fiction since I was in elementary school, although of course none of my “books” were ever worthy of being published back then. As a journalist I always preferred the human interest articles because they lent me the ability to write with more artistic flexibility. I’ve always liked writing about people and their accomplishments.

You mean you didn’t love the political reporting? Shocking. Anyway, what’s the best book you’ve read this year?

“The Island” by Victoria Hislop. It’s beautifully written and educational about leprosy.

Who is your favorite fictional character? (Any medium)

Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. There truly is “no place like home.”

If you could have one super-power, what would it be and why?

Time travel. I’d like to be able to go back to any point in history and see what life was like.

Watch out for paradoxes should you ever take such a trip. So you’re not only a new author but a new mother. Go ahead and brag about the little one.

I had my first child, Brooke, on August 13. She surprised me by coming almost a month early! She’s adorable –just starting to coo and smile. Now if only she could learn to sleep more than a few hours at a time during night…

Sleep is overrated. What’s next for you?

Right now my focus is on Brooke. Once she’s a bit older I’d like to write again. Not sure what the topic would be, but I definitely see another novel in my future.

Where can people learn more about your work?

Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com

Tell us one fun fact about yourself.

I met my husband, Brent, on Match.com!

And there you have it, folks. Match.com works! Be sure to check out Dana’s new book. Thank you, Dana!