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Jacqueline Markowitz has roots as a producer for radio and television commercials, but now she is writing full-time and running her own company, The Jam Press, offering literary and publishing services, based in Toronto. Last October, she published Conversations For Two, her first novel — what Markowitz describes as fiction from life — based on her older brother, John, who died decades ago, when she was 17.
“Twenty-five years after John’s death, I came into possession of a box of his writings in a most incredible way. I began to discover his life, to try and make sense of his death, and a book was born; one that I feel we wrote together,” says Markowitz. She adds that her book is a conversation between her and her brother — his voice resides in the poems, songs, and the words he left behind.
Markowitz spoke with Bookclub-in-a-Box about her writing process, the years of writing and revisions, and the highs and lows of self-publishing. (Buy Conversations For Two at Toronto’s Type Books, Page and Panel, at www.thejampress.com, or in ebook format on Amazon.)
Which aspects of the story in Conversations for Two are taken from your own life?
There are incidences in the story that have been borrowed or interpreted from my own life, but then it becomes the life of the narrator, her journey to explore. In this book, truth and fiction merge and mingle in the intricacies of the characters. There were eight years between my brother and me. I was a kid, and he was my cool big brother. I couldn’t possibly have had a window to his life at the time. I did, however feel that I got to know him as I wrote this book, or at least gained an idea of what his life might have looked like. It’s a story set in the early ’70s in Toronto. I got to write what it felt like to be part of the generation of peace and love!
It’s not a true story, although some of the story is based on a truth, and much of it is imagined, created, inspired by my brother’s words, triggered by his thoughts. The experience is considered through the lens of the narrator, her 17-year-old, and her mature self. It’s her attempt to understand why her brother died, to find answers, and somehow, acceptance. (more…)