Life is filled with chance meetings, and there are some that change your life in the most unexpected ways. I’ll start by telling you about the chance meeting I had with John Cerullo, a publisher and fellow student at a Tibetan Buddhist Center.
It was 2010 when John and I had a conversation about a shared vision to present the Buddhist teachings in such a way that non-Buddhists could benefit, and without implying a need to become Buddhist. Several months later I received an email from John describing his concept for a series of books based on The Six Perfections taught in Buddhism. He didn’t seem concerned that I am not an authority on the subject. Nor did he seem concerned that I had never written fiction, created characters, plot, or dialog. Accustomed to life’s unexpected turns, I took a giant leap of faith, a lot of deep breaths, and began the journey of writing the series.
Writing on a topic as profound as The Six Perfections isn’t something I take lightly, and my comfort level has undeniably been stretched by the work involved. I have benefited tremendously by the challenging and deeper study required, and I am extremely fortunate to have the help and guidance from excellent teachers where I study at Do Ngak Kunphen Ling (DNKL) in Redding, Connecticut. To begin, I took the adage “write what you know” to heart. For my first attempt at creating a character I used my own life to form the outlines that are colored in by the distinct and unique character you will meet in Grace. Like Grace, I was divorced when my sons were very young, and with a degree in music I was able to earn money by teaching piano from home. And like Troy, the character whose journey we follow through the series, it was only through some stroke of luck that the right people were there to help me find my way when I was young and my life was at loose ends.
As a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston, I studied music composition. For me, music is all about painting pictures with sound. I feel writing is about the same thing, only with words. I have found that elements of music composition such as theme, phrasing, rhythm, and dynamics are common elements in writing words. It is an awareness of these shared elements that helps guide my writing.
When His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited DNKL in October 2012, I had the ultimate good fortune to present him with copies of my first two books, How Generosity Works and How the Root of Kindness Works.While I don’t presume he has read the books, just knowing the Dalai Lama has held them in his hands is more thrilling to me now than was the possibility of my fantasy as an eight-year-old that, if only I could meet him, George Harrison would hold my hand and fall in love with me.