By Stacey Dresner
NORTHAMPTON – When she was working on her book “Camp: A Novel,” Elaine Wolf’s goal was to write a “mother-daughter” story. But when she completed it, it soon became apparent that people loved the anti-bullying aspect of the story.
Now known as “The Anti-Bullying Novelist,” Wolf, who lives in Northampton, will speak about “Camp” and her upcoming book, “Danny’s Mom” on Tuesday, Dec. 4 during Literatour, the Jewish Book Festival of the Springfield Jewish Community.
“Camp” is the story of a young girl who is sent to an overnight camp where she experiences bullying and hazing and learns secrets about her mother’s past as a Holocaust survivor.
Published in June, the book was named 2012 Book of the Month in July by The Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County (NY).
Wolf became a published author only recently. A longtime resident of Long Island, she was a public school teacher and school district program director for many years before taking an early retirement 14 years ago to become a full-time writer.
“At first I immersed myself in the craft of writing. I took some writing classes. I went to Hofstra University, went to the New School and took a novel writing class. And I went to Gothan writers workshop and took a few classes with them, and really studied the craft. I wanted to do it the right way. I have always been an avid reader and writing has always been my passion and my hobby but I really wanted the opportunity to really explore the craft.”
Wolf and her husband moved to Northampton three years ago to be closer to family – Wolf’s stepdaughter, Judy, her husband Rabbi Justin David of Congregation B’nai Israel and their children.
Her first foray into writing a novel was the book “Danny’s Mom” which has not been published yet. Her second novel, “Camp” struck a chord with her publisher.
“ I wrote it as a mother-daughter story in which the mother’s past as a Holocaust survivor shadowed her relationship with her daughter. The Holocaust is really in my blood and in my bones. My mother was a Holocaust survivor. So it was very important to me to do a mother-daughter story and to keep the mothers past rooted in the Holocaust and secrets. So it really is a book about the secrets we carry and how that impacts all of our relationships,” she explained. “I didn’t realize I was writing a bullying novel, but everyone who read drafts and advance copies kept saying to me, ‘Wow you really get these mean girls’ voices so right! This a good bullying book.”
Set in a school, her second book, “Danny’s Mom” which is set to be published Nov. 1, also touches on the issue of bullying, among its other themes.
Since “Camp” came out, Wolf has been speaking to a variety of groups – teens, Hadassah’s, JCC’s and even seniors book clubs. Readers of “Camp” range in age from 12 to their 90s.
Her books “ have given me a platform from which to keep the bullying conversation going, so that in concert with the professionals in our community, we can really make a difference and stop this epidemic.”