MARION CUBA has worked as a writer in advertising, promotion, and nonprofit fundraising. Her novel, Shanghai Legacy, was a 2007 Benjamin Franklin Awards Finalist. For many years Marion served as an Adult Literacy Tutor. She attended Brandeis University and the University of Michigan, earning a BA in English. She is at work on another historical novel, which, like her previous book, chronicles a little-known chapter of the Holocaust when humane groups and ordinary individuals of all religions rose up to save countless lives. She designs jewelry, sculpts, and writes poetry. But her main passion and vocation is writing fiction. She lives in New York City and often features it in her work. Visit her at her website: www.shanghailegacy.com and her email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read Marion's essay, "On Not Letting Go of Grief," in Letting Go: An Anthology of Attempts
"What has been so surprising—and rewarding—is that writing can be learned! When I look at the work I’ve done over the last many years, I see amazing growth. And this keeps me pressing ahead in discouraging times."
Letting Go is an anthology of true stories. As a writer of fiction, did you find it harder to write a nonfiction story?
Actually, it was easier than writing fiction. Having one finite theme freed me up to just charge forward and write. I’ve kept journals for about 30 years, and I wrote this essay the same way as I did those entries. It’s total permission to say exactly what you want to. No worries about structure, point of view, voice—plus no need to start from nothing and create the whole thing.
What are you working on?
I’m working on another historical novel with the same theme as my previous book,
Shanghai Legacy—namely, a little-known chapter of the Holocaust that chronicles the
saving of lives, rather than their destruction. In Shanghai Legacy, German Jews who waited almost too long to flee Hitler, found refuge in Shanghai, the only place that would take them without a visa.
In the book I’m currently working on, Jewish children who were arrested along with their parents in 1940 to be sent to concentration camps in Vichy, France, were taken in by the Jewish humanitarian group, OSE, who bought up old castles, teaching and hiding them.
What has been the most surprising about learning your craft?
What has been so surprising—and rewarding—is that writing can be learned!
When I look at the work I’ve done over the last many years, I see amazing
growth. And this keeps me pressing ahead in discouraging times.
Do you think workshops have helped you become a better writer?
Without a doubt. Living in New York, I’ve been privileged to study with
a variety of wonderful writers and teachers: at NYU, the New School, Marymount
Manhattan College, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and privately with individuals. At the
Peripatetic Writing Workshops, run by Martha Hughes and Maureen Brady, I’ve had
invaluable breakthroughs and experiences. Currently, I am part of writing class that gives me thoughtful, objective critiques. Their criticism—and my own, given to them—helps me refine, correct, and improve my writing. Also, the deadlines help keep me on track!
Any writers you like to read to inspire you to write (or if you're blocked?)
There are individual books that I read and re-read that inspire me, and, yes,
help me when I’m blocked. Some of them are: Disgrace, by J.M. Coetzee; Ordinary
People, by Judith Guest; A Gesture Life, by Chang-rae Lee; Bird By Bird, by Anne
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