I grew up in Melbourne, the middle child in a middle-class Jewish family. I would describe us as secular Jews, yet our Jewishness was important, culturally and as a source of identity. I attended MLC (Methodist Ladies College – how very quaint that now sounds) from prep to matriculation.
My mother was a reader, books were always available. I started reading very early. If my head was in a book, I was left alone – a great privilege in the crowded world of the family. I would read before school and after school, I would read through entire weekends. If at that time I were to answer honestly what I wanted to be when I grew up, it would have been a character in my favourite novel of the moment. But I would never have answered honestly. Reading was private, reading wrapped itself around your most special desires – too fragile, too precious to be exposed.
It was around the age of 8 that I realised that the books I loved were actually written by a real person. From that time on I wanted to be a novelist.
Music has been another enduring love. I started learning the piano the year I turned 8. Short on both talent and application, I did, however, reach a reasonable standard. It has left me with the ability to play (extremely badly these days), and it has given me a great love of music. I go to concerts – Melbourne’s new Recital Centre has been a gift to this music lover – and I listen to music at home and on the move. Music is cemented to mind and heart, I cannot imagine how to live without it.
I was involved at this time with the development of electronic communication aids for use by people who were unable to speak. These were pioneering days.
While working as a speech pathologist I was writing at night and on weekends, short stories and two practice novels, and finally GRACIOUS LIVING, which was accepted by Penguin and published in 1989. There have been 6 more novels since then, as well as many articles and long essays.
And I travelled. I lived in London as a 21-year-old and have returned many times since. London features in all my novels. New York is another favourite city. My school friend, Jan, moved there in the early 1970s and I visit there every couple of years. I am very attached to the Upper West Side and this provides one of the locations for my new novel THE MEMORY TRAP. Peru and Bolivia were early travel destinations.
As for a personal life, I’ve always had one: a string of boyfriends from my teenage years, to my first great love, with whom I lived for a number of years; and an old school friend who was a passionate fixture in my life for decades.
In 1993 Dot moved to Melbourne. We lived together, we worked together and we travelled together. We went to Antarctica, to Botswana and Tanzania; we crossed the Canadian Rockies. In Australia we went to Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and the Top End – all of them several times.
In 1998 we bought a house in inner Melbourne. There we lived until Dot’s death in December, 2008. It is where I still live.