Donna Brookman Kaulkin
- Born: Philadelphia, PA, The United States.
- Description: I was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pa, then moved to the Washington, DC area, where I raised my two sons, attended Georgetown University and had a great career as a managing editor at U.S. Pharmacopoeia, then as an editorial director in McGraw-Hill’s aviation group. In my current editorial services business, aviation remains my specialty but I’ve also written articles and edited books on the arts.
I moved to California in 2002 and over the next few years, the idea for a novel blossomed. I sometimes think of Brenda Corrigan Went Downtown as my own tale of two cities, because my protagonist has one foot in her hometown, Washington, DC, and the other in her new home, California. She enjoys life, lives in the moment, but a lifetime of memories cannot be denied.
In retrospect, the actual writing of the novel seems to have happened so fast. On Super Bowl Sunday 2009, after returning from a walk on a lonely trail, I typed a title, Brenda Corrigan Went Downtown. I wrote a first chapter. I imagined a psychopath and wrote his story. Then over the next few years I worked at creating a spirited, brave and warm group of women friends, and familial relationships that were realistic—loving and quarrelsome. On Super Bowl Sunday 2013, while doing my millionth “final proof,” I was struck by this passage:
“There’s a big adjustment ahead,” thought Brenda. “My children and I will have to free each other again.”
I had been fiddling with my manuscript for months, agonizing over every comma and semi-colon, seeking the odd dangling participle, as editors do. But in that moment, I realized I had to let go. My characters had lived in my imagination for four years. Now they wanted out. The story was finished.
People ask what I will write about next time. Each week I go to a writing workshop led by Cynthia Leslie-Boles and post my work on a blog, Donna Tells Stories. I find that humor has become my strong suit. Who can say where this will lead?