Welcome to Author Services Australia, Merle R Saferstein, and welcome to our author interviews!
If you could start by introducing yourself to everyone, let them know where you’re from and some of your interests and hobbies.
I am from Miami, Florida, although I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in the United States. I’ve been an educator all my life. In my last position of 26 years, I was the director of educational outreach at a Holocaust Center. I worked with hundreds of Holocaust survivors, helping them pass along their legacies of remembrance. I retired in 2011 and began teaching a course I developed entitled Living and Leaving Your Legacy®.
I live near a beach, and most enjoy walking the beach in search of seashells. I love reading, walking daily, gardening, spending time in nature, and staying connected to family and friends.
What inspired you to start writing?
When I was a young girl, I used to write letters to my family all over the country and the world since I missed them. I remember telling myself then that I needed to live an interesting life so I would have something to write about.
What is your preferred genre to write in?
My preferred genre is journaling. I began keeping a journal in 1974, right before I turned 30. I have been journaling ever since and currently have a collection of over 380 journals.
In 2002 I began reading my journals and taking excerpts from them in the hopes of leaving my legacy for my children. I chose seventy topics and eventually narrowed them down to twenty-two. Initially, each subject was roughly 75–450 pages, all taken from journals dated between 1974–2016. After careful editing, I included the excerpts that best captured my thoughts, feelings, conversations, encounters, memories, dreams, travel adventures, and more. I created two books entitled Living and Leaving My Legacy, Vols. l and ll. At some point, I decided to publish them for a broader audience.
What is your writing process?
I generally wake up early each day and journal for at least 30 minutes to an hour. I journal with a fountain pen.
When I was working on my books, I spent hours every day for months at a time at my computer. Mostly, at that point, I was editing.
What is one thing you wish you knew now that you didn’t know when you started writing?
I started writing well before computers. I used to go through many legal pads as I would write and then rewrite. What I might have wished for was that computers were accessible then.
What was the hardest part of self-publishing?
I self-published my first book, Room 732. What was especially difficult for me was that I had no idea about publishing then. I often felt somewhat lost and would have wished for more guidance.
When I self-published in 2012, it was just becoming popular. Prior to that, there was often a stigma attached to self-publishing. It took a while for me to let go of my concern about whether people would look at the book differently because I didn’t have a publisher.
If you use a pen name, why and how did you come up with it?
Which book is your favorite and why?
My favorite book is A Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. When I read it many years ago, it was a time in my life when I was home with two young children. The book describes how Anne left her family for two weeks and went to the beach as a form of retreat. It captivated me and planted a seed in my mind. Many years later, I left home for three months, rented a room, and wrote—much like Anne Morrow Lindbergh had done.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Anne Frank and her diary always spoke to my soul. A favorite author of mine is May Sarton. The first book I read of hers was a journal entitled A House by the Sea. As a result of that book, I was able to identify with Sarton, and it helped me to validate that I was, in fact, a writer. I have since read all of her journals as well as her novels.
There are many authors now that I love reading, but mostly I have found that what calls to me above all else these days are memoirs.
What are you working on right now?
I have just completed Living and Leaving My Legacy, Vol. ll, published on June 20, 2023. What I am involved with now is the marketing aspect of the book and the first volume.
I am currently working on a project entitled Wisdom of the Century. We are interviewing 90 people over 90 and will eventually create a coffee table book. I do half the interviews but am responsible for synthesizing each of the interviews into one page.
How do you handle a bad review?
I received only one bad review on my first book ten years ago and none since then. How I handled it was to call my friend, who was a published author, and speak with her. She helped me talk through the disappointment and accept that it happened. The most important lesson I have learned is that readers read through their lens. When a reader writes a bad review, it can mean that my book just isn’t for that person. It doesn’t necessarily mean my book deserves a one or two-star rating. Nonetheless, a bad review never feels good.
What’s next for you as an author?
What I am doing is going through hundreds of letters I wrote to my friend Tom, and he wrote to me. We had always planned to put these letters into a book entitled A Seminar by the Sea. Unfortunately, Tom died in October, so I am not sure that it’s something I am prepared to do at this time. I guess I’ll know as I move forward in reading the letters.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
My hope is that in five years, I will continue to speak and teach locally, nationally, and internationally. I expect to be a sought-out legacy educator who shares her wisdom from a well-lived life.
If you could choose one superpower, what would it be and why?
I would love to be someone who could heal others from the trauma they endured. I know one person can make a difference, and I do my best to be there for others in emotional pain. Unfortunately, there are so many who are struggling in our world today.
Where is your ultimate holiday destination?
I don’t have an exact spot, but I am happiest near water (ocean, lakes, etc.) or in the mountains. As long as I’m in nature, I will be happy.
What are some of the items on your bucket list?
I work hard to do those things that bring me joy and don’t put them off. However, I have a wanderlust spirit, so travel is on my list.
I’ve always wanted to go to Holland and see the fields of tulips in bloom. While there, I would love to go to the Anne Frank House.
I want to explore and hike through the northwest of the United States.
Other places I would love to visit: are Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Italy (I’ve been to only part of Italy and would like to see it all), Hawaii, and more.
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Author Name: Merle R Saferstein
Genre/s: Legacy Journal/memoir
Author Website: www.merlersaferstein.com
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