Today we're excited to chat with Mary Helen Fein author of
Stitching A Life: An Immigration Story.
Read on for more about Mary and her book, plus an giveaway.
Meet Mary Helen Fein!
Mary Helen Fein was born in New York City, in 1943. She attended schools in New York and began writing at the age of twelve when her mother died. Writing has ever since been an important part of her life, a way to understand and process life’s events. Mary Helen holds a BA in English literature from Temple University and an MS in computer science engineering from the University of Pennsylvania; she also studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, America’s oldest art school, for two years. Today she lives in Northern California, where she owns her own website design company, writes, paints, and teaches Insight meditation. In 2014, she published her first novel, Loss of Deliverance―the story of a young woman’s adventures in the drug trade during the 1960s.
Meet Stitching A Life: An Immigration Story!
It’s 1900, and sixteen-year-old Helen comes alone in steerage across the Atlantic from a small village in Lithuania, fleeing terrible anti-Semitism and persecution. She arrives at Ellis Island, and finds a place to live in the colorful Lower East Side of New York. She quickly finds a job in the thriving garment industry and, like millions of others who are coming to America during this time, devotes herself to bringing the rest of her family to join her in the New World, refusing to rest until her family is safe in New York.
A few at a time, Helen’s family members arrive. Each goes to work with the same fervor she has and contributes everything to bringing over their remaining beloved family members in a chain of migration. Helen meanwhile, makes friends and—once the whole family is safe in New York—falls in love with a man who introduces her to a different New York—a New York of wonder, beauty, and possibility.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I wanted to honor and remember my grandmother. I believe her influence on me allowed me to have a much happier life than I would have otherwise.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
My Grandmother! Hinde (who becomes Helen when she arrives in the New World).
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I am most proud of the scene where the great steamboat from Europe arrives in New York Harbor, and Helen sees the Statue of Liberty for the first time. I still cry sometimes when I read it.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I learned to show emotional realities, not just tell them. A gesture, a look on someone’s face, a feeling in the pit of the stomach.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love the beautiful photo of the young woman looking out over NY Harbor at the Statue of Liberty because the statue is part of my favorite scene.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
Perhaps the story of my parents meeting and finding one another and then separating.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
The opening scene. Violent.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I love drafting, the sheer excitement of it, the newness.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
I love people, in life and on paper.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
Buddhist Global Relief
Stitching A Life
By: Mary Helen Fein
Publisher: She Writes Press
Release Date: June 9th, 2020
Two winners will receive a copy of Stitching A Life: An Immigration Story) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*