Thursday, January 2, 2014

Another New Year

Elizabeth Zelvin

This year, 2014, will mark 69 years since the end of World War II; 51 years since Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the publication of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique; 46 since Dr. King's assassination; 45 since Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, 42 since the founding of Ms. Magazine, 28 since the Challenger disaster, 13 since 911, and 6 since the election of the first African-American President of the United States.

It's the year in which I'll turn 70, nowadays considered the new 39 but more traditionally the threshold of old age, the year at which we need to remember we must die, according to British novelist Muriel Spark, author of Memento Mori. This year, I'll attend my 50th college reunion and a Girl Scout camp reunion celebrating an aspect of my childhood that helped shape who I am from my first experience 61 years ago. I'll celebrate 10 years as a mystery writer, 30 as a psychotherapist, 33 years of marriage (my second), and 38 from when my husband and I first started dating. I'll have lived in my New York City apartment building for 47 years and my current apartment for 44, which, not coincidentally, is the age my son will reach this year.

My granddaughters will turn 10 and 7, moving all too quickly from little-girlhood toward preteen status. This may be the year that someone, perhaps another child, challenges their belief in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. The older one is already a delight to have a serious conversation with, and the little one recently complained that her first-grade homework is too easy.

This year, my husband and I will celebrate my birthday by traveling, visiting Europe for the first time in ten years. We're spending a week each in Amsterdam and Toulouse, both places where we're lucky to have friends lending us their apartments. I've always dreamed of seeing tulip season in the Netherlands, so that's high on our agenda. I'm also looking forward to the superb museums. The Rijksmuseum has recently reopened after a renovation that was already in progress when we were there a decade ago. In Toulouse, we plan to settle in and do a minimum of touring. We'll be staying within walking distance of some of the city's beautiful rose-brick medieval churches. There'll be caf├ęs to sit in and markets to shop in. My stepdaughter and her husband, who live in London, will come and visit for a few days.

On the writing front, after managing to stay afloat on the turbulent seas of the publishing industry for the six years since my first novel came out, I hope to do reasonably well with Voyage of Strangers, my novel about what really happened when Columbus discovered America. I released it last month as an e-book after 150 tries and near-misses, so I can say I left no stone unturned in my hunt for an agent or publisher willing to take a chance on a historical novel that's not a mystery, though it's the sequel to two short stories that appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and not in one of the hot young-adult genres, though its main characters are in their teens. The protagonist is Diego, the young marrano sailor from the Agatha-nominated story "The Green Cross." It takes place on Columbus's second voyage, a period marked by the aftermath of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and the genocide of the Taino in the Caribbean. Diego and his sister Rachel (a new character I hope my readers will fall in love with, as I did) struggle with divided loyalties as they come of age in a doomed paradise.


Sandra Parshall said...

Your coming year sounds wonderful, Liz. I envy you the long trip to Europe!

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Sandy, the Europeans, with their month-long vacations, don't think it's a long trip. "Only two weeks?" they say. But I agree, I have a lot to look forward to. :)

mz. em said...

Wow, a lot has happened in our lifetimes. Your travel plans sound absolutely delightful. I'm envious. Have fun this year.