Women and Adversity: Judy L. Mandel
Judy L. Mandel self-published her memoir, Replacement Child, in 2009 then released the ebook in 2011. When thousands of the ebooks sold, she contacted agent, Rita Rosenkranz, who in 2015 notified Mandel Replacement Child made The New York Times Best Sellers E-Book list.
Judy is the “Replacement Child” for Florence and Albert Mandel. The couple lost their seven-year-old daughter, Donna, when a plane crashed into their home in Elizabeth, N.J. on January 22, 1952. Their two-year-old daughter, Linda, survived but had chronic pain throughout her life until she passed away in 2009.
This heartrending story reveals how this tragic event shaped the family dynamics and how Judy found her place in it.
Writing has been a major part of Judy’s professional life. She has articles, essays and short stories published and worked in journalism, public relations and corporate communications.
She lives in Connecticut with her husband.
JAM: What was the greatest obstacle you faced when you decided to write Replacement Child?
JLM: Because the story includes so much material that happened before I was born, I had to come up with a way to write imagined scenes based on the facts as I knew them. Combining the stories told to me by my family, research into the plane crash that is the pivotal event, and talking to people who remembered the crash and time period, I pieced together the narrative and was able to find my own place in it.
JAM: Did any unique obstacles occur as you wrote it?
JLM: Strangely, I had a hard time placing myself in the story. I started out thinking it was my sister’s story, then my mother’s – who saved three people the day the plane crashed into her home. It was only through many drafts that I discovered my own story as I realized the role of begin a replacement child.
JAM: What obstacle/s do you face now as a writer?
JLM: It’s always about finding my way into the story I am writing, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. Often I don’t know what I think or feel about something until I write about it. Then the question of whether it should be written, and written by me. Do I have something unique to say? So, the answer, I think, is that I am my own obstacle!
August 8 – Jenni Barnett, Historical Novelist