One of my heroes died last week at age 95.
She was the Grandmother Who Wrote Best-Sellers.
Belva Plain wrote her first novel at an age when most people are wrapping things up. Evergreen, the saga of a Polish immigant girl torn between two men, was published in 1978, when Plain, 63, had already raised three children. It stayed on The New York Times bestseller list for 41 weeks in hardcover and another 20 in paperback, and was later made into an NBC miniseries.
As a young woman she was a prolific writer, and sold a few stories to magazines. After marrying an ophthalmologist, she settled in New Jersey and put her career on hold to raise her children. "I couldn't have done both," she said.
By the time Evergreen became a success, Plain was a grandmother. She never owned a computer, and wrote her novels in longhand. More than 28 million of her books are in print, including Random Winds and Eden Burning. She believed coming to novels late in life gave her a unique writer's perspective. She said: "You see your grandchildren, you remember your grandparents, and there's a sense of overall family continuance.
Plain maintained a disciplined work schedule, writing five hours a day, four days a week, and published a novel about every two years until her last, Crossroads, in 2008. Shortly before he death, she finished a sequel to Evergreen, to be published in February.