The staircase in Ella’s childhood home.

Since Becoming Mia has launched, I have started doing research for my next project, Ella. This novel will be loosely based on my grandmother’s life. Ella was born sometime between 1880 and 1885 and died in 1956. Despite my parents attempts to get her out of Hungary, she was never allowed to leave, so I never met her.

All I have are the crumbs of her story my mother told me. How I wish I had listened more carefully and asked more questions!

One tidbit flashes in neon lights. Ella translated Huckleberry Fin into Hungarian. Why would a wealthy Hungarian lady translate Mark Twain?

After doing some research – thank you internet – I discovered Ella was born to a wealthy family in Nagykanizsa, a town of about 50,000 in Southwestern Hungary. Nagykanizsa is a 5 hour train ride to Vienna.  Might a wealthy family spend time in Vienna? Of course they would. And who spent 20 months in Vienna in the late 1890s? Mark Twain! So maybe Ella met Twain in Vienna and they talked about his novels.

But wait. That’s in English. Would Ella speak English? Of course she would. Any properly brought up young Hungarian women spoke German, French, and English in addition to Hungarian.

Did this meeting really take place? I don’t know. But it is certainly possible and I am writing fiction, so in my book Ella met Mark Twain when she was in her teens. And that changed her life.

Stay tuned.



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