AS: This is your fourth “star” book – A Handful of Stars, Another Handful of Stars, A Tapestry of Stars, and, now, Stardust. So what makes a person a star?
CBW: Most of these stories revolve around average individuals who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances, facing considerable challenges and/or opportunities. It is not their circumstances — but what they do with them — that turn our ordinary protagonists into stars.
AS: Your books are so popular, bestsellers in their genre. Why do you think these stories resonate so strongly with readers?
CBW: I think that many readers can relate to the fact that the characters are ordinary people, the type you meet in the supermarket, at the gym, or on line at PTA, regular humans who make regular mistakes. Just like you and me.
AS: A convert from a kind of “hillbilly” home, an old man who tricks his children into taking care of him, the mother of a very sick child who has to keep her identity a secret. So many different stories, so many varied characters and plot lines. How do you find them?
CBW: To be honest, I never do. Find them, I mean. The stories tend to find me, by Divine Design, often when least expected. One of my memorable encounters took place at a wedding I almost didn’t attend, where I knew not a soul aside from the chasan’s immediate family. I was seated at a table with the kallah’s relatives, who, when they discovered they were sitting next to an author, shared two remarkable stories that both made the “cut.”
AS: You have stories from the 1800s, from the Holocaust years, and from the 21st century. Your main characters are young and old, men and women, religious and secular. What would you say all the stories, and all the characters, share in common?
CBW: Nothing but their humanity, their religion, and their desire to do the right thing (at least most of the time). Oh, and the fact that they were chosen, out of hundreds of stories, because they touched a chord in my heart.
AS: If there is one enduring message one can take from Stardust, what would it be?
CBW: That’s it’s okay to make mistakes, okay to cry and laugh at your foibles, to forgive yourself, dust yourself off and move on. That’s what life is all about.