A large Queen Anne-style house with a distinctive tower something like this is the headquarters for Cassia’s extended family in my new novel. If only this one were pink, like hers.

In my new novel, What’s Left, her maternal grandparents are both dead before her birth – they’re victims of a late-night collision on a rural highway. But they cast a big influence over her life, all the same.

Stavros and Bella are second-generation Americans, bridging hard work and success to establish the family restaurant, Carmichael’s, as the campus landmark it becomes.

Consider this note from Stavros’ World War II Navy travels, which I cut from my novel:

San Francisco, San Diego, Honolulu, eventually Japan, all add Chinese, authentic Italian and Mexican, fresh seafood, avocado and artichokes, sushi and sashimi to his comprehension – sensations he dreams of carrying back to his hometown, if he can.

I leave enough of his fuller story as it is. He’s usually seen as a gruff, no-nonsense guy, but he does have his tender moments, especially when Bella’s involved.


I hadn’t thought about this till now, but one set of my grandparents was dead before my birth. In recent decades, though, I’m realizing how much of an imprint – good and bad – they left on me.

Where do your grandparents come from? How do they differ from your parents (other than just being older)? How do you differ from them? And how do you resemble them?