This post is part of an interview series featuring the authors of Family Stories from the Attic, an anthology of essays, creative nonfiction, and poetry inspired by family letters, objects, and archives. Monday posts are featured on the Hidden Timber Books website, and Wednesday posts are featured here. Learn more about Family Stories from the Attic at the bottom of this post. Without further ado, let’s meet Margaret Krell, author of “Tracing My Father’s Admonition.”
Q: How has the publication of your piece influenced the work you are writing today or your writing in general?
Margaret: I like this question, because its optimism assumes the author will write. After I graduated from the Solstice program at the age of 70, I hardly wrote, probably closer to the truth, I didn’t write at all. When I started working on my piece for Family Stories from the Attic, I welcomed Christi’s thoughtful editing, but even more valuable to me was the ensuing dialogue. The dialogue with Christi nurtured and gave me confidence in what I knew and what I could do. In fact so much so that post publication, I set a writing goal for myself for the year: to complete two additional personal essays, both about my mother, whose reluctance to engage the past kept her walking a tight rope of guardedness, keeping her distant from me. One of these essays revolves around silence and obedience, and the unexpressed need to speak and to engage, which, then as a child and still as an adult, I seek in order to be and to write.
Q: What is a fun, interesting, or unusual fact to share with your readers?
Margaret: Strange as it may seem with what I have written in Family Stories from the Attic, a writer friend of mine once described me as a “woman with a hearty laugh full of mirth.” I must admit I do love whimsy, irony, turning a topic on its head and of course, punning, attributes learned from my father, too.
Related to this, I enjoy chewing the fat, especially over a hearty meal. However, my housekeeping, as my mother once described it, is ‘creative,’ a euphemism I fear, for things tossed “artfully” (?) about. So to reconcile my need to entertain with my less than adequate housekeeping, I host a potluck once a month at the UU parish house just down the street. For a full hour before the evening program, 10-14 of us fit, just right, around one substantial oak table prettied up with fresh flowers. There are no rules about cell-phones, but in that time of breaking bread, none rings. We have come to know each other so well, we have begun to tease each other and often have one conversation among the dozen or so of us there as if we were family.
All in all, I experience the world the old fashioned way: I prefer listening to a story on radio to watching it on TV. I prefer telephone to Twitter, though in my book, in person is best. I admire crafts and artistic endeavors, things made by hand, though I wish my hands would flex more to give some a try — but I must admit, even when they could, my nature is to become impatient with dropped and tiny stitches. I love theatre and chamber music, and at one time I was a pretty decent pianist. I still have my piano, and on days I receive good news, I play.
In the photo on the right, that’s my 13 year old Maltese, Toby, or as he would be apt to put it, I’m his 73 year old human.
Family Stories from the Attic features nearly two dozen works of prose and poetry inspired by letters, diaries, photographs, and other family papers and artifacts. Editors Christi Craig and Lisa Rivero bring together both experienced and new writers who share their stories in ways that reflect universal themes of time, history, family, love, and change.