The summer I turned eight my family moved from the suburban town I had lived in all my life to a neighboring community six miles away. For my parents, who had spent their childhood fleeing Hitler, the change meant little more than an additional bedroom or two for their growing family of four sons. But for me, the sudden loss of neighborhood and friends seemed an upheaval as great as any they had endured during the 1930s. In an instant I became an outsider, a stranger, the new kid on the block. The shock awakened me from the cozy sleep of infancy and thrust me overnight into the great world of newspapers and radios and books, a world full of mystery and menace and wonder.
It was a fascinating and fearsome time to grow up: John Kennedy, was about to be elected president, the threat of nuclear war hung in the air, and the first cautious explorations of outer space coincided with the first tentative revelations of the horrors of the Holocaust.
With the Cold War providing the persistent background hum of impending annihilation, a hum that filled the ears of every child of the fifties, I began to learn the I Holocaust's terrible lessons of mans limitless capacity for evil. The more I read about those awful years, the more I realized that events played out on the world stage had enormous impact on my own life. Though my immediate family had escaped unscathed from the flames of Europe, many distant relatives had not. And had it not been for the war, I would have grown up not as an American in a suburb of New York City but, like my parents, as a German citizen of Berlin or Dresden.
There was one other central constellation in the firmament of my youth: love. I was blessed to fall in love early in life and remain that way. Within days of meeting my future wife I knew we would one day marry. Eight years later, after high school, college, and postgraduate studies, we did. A long period of infertility followed, but then, with the swiftness of a miracle, three children were born: a daughter and boy/girl twins. Ever since I have thought of myself as a father first; everything else has become secondary.
Writing for me has always been an expression of gratitude, an outgrowth of the impulse to give thanks for love received, for children born, for the miraculous existence of the imagination. When I write for adults I often do so in a state of wonder, transfixed by blessings. When I write for children I try to recapture the eight-year-old boy I once was, a boy filled with a passionate interest in the unfolding world around him. And finally I write in the hope of leaving behind a legacy of thought and feeling that my children might one day mine, if not for answers at least for solace, in the recognition that we traveled the same road of doubt and discovery.