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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Edith Tarbescu - ANNUSHKA'S VOYAGE


Edith Tarbescu is the author of four children's books, including the award-winning picture book ANNUSHKA’S VOYAGE (Houghton Mifflin). She is also a playwright and has written ANNUSHKA’S VOYAGE into a play for young people. The play was performed at The Little Theatre, in Albuqueruqe, and was recently published by PlayScripts. Her latest play for adults, SUFFER QUEEN, was produced at the Algonquin Theatre, in New York, in August. She is an ex-New Yorker (born and bred in Brooklyn) who now resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She enjoys long walks with her dog, Sugar Bear, as well as traveling, including trips to New York, and is looking forward to writing more books and plays.

Tell me about ANNUSHKA'S VOYAGE.

ANNUSHKA’S VOYAGE is the story of two young Jewish girls who travel in steerage from Russia to Ellis Island, circa 1920. They are supposed to be reunited with their father who traveled to America a few years earlier. The journey is long, and there's a storm at sea. And after they arrive, Ellis Island is crowded, and they have to be examined before they can leave the island. Most of all, Anya and Tanya are worried Papa won't find them.

What was your inspiration for the book?

I am first generation American. My mother came here from Russia, and my father came from Hungary. I took some of my mother's story about traveling to America and some of my father's story, put them in a "blender" and came up with the best possible story.

Was research involved?

I did a lot of research. I had only heard bits and pieces from my parents, mostly from my father, who was a natural storyteller. When Ellis Island Museum opened, I was living in Connecticut, and it was not difficult to travel to the museum, view the exhibits, talk to curators, etc. I did that a few times. I also asked the Curator of Oral History to read my manuscript and make corrections. He did that, which was very helpful. He also wrote a blurb for the back of the book.

You have also created a play based on your book. Can you share a bit about that process?

I'm also a playwright but had only written plays for adults. After ANNUSHKA was published, I did many school visits, and librarians and teachers said, "You're a playwright. Why don't you turn ANNUSHKA into a play for children? It took several years, but I finally did that. I added scenes for the stage and took some liberties with the text. Luckily, I found a director, and I had a workshop and staged reading at The Little Theatre, in Albuquerque and made revisions. I also had feedback from the director of a theatre Upstate New York (The Open Eye). After receiving her comments, I revised again. The play was recently published by PlayScripts:http://www.playscripts.com/

Are you working on anything new?

I'm working on a picture book biography as well as a picture book about Passover titled "The Passover Elves." I also completed a novel for adults titled WALL STREET WIVES. I plan to revise the main character, a stockbroker, by making him more likeable, especially in this economic environment. I was encouraged by several agents, so I'll get back to the drawing board.

Edith, Thanks for visiting! Best of luck with all of your books.

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