The road to writing and publishing can sometimes be rocky, sometimes smooth, a bit fairy tale-ish in itself. But a writer must distrust both the rocky and the smooth, and walk the middle road, which is all about the characters and the story.
I had just finished writing a different Holocaust novel, The Devil’s Arithmetic, several years earlier and swore to myself never to do another. That was because of the research. I’d spent years doing it, finding myself in a place that was dark, bloody, inhuman, awful; a place where the stories were mostly tragedies. And yet those stories also had their share of honor, courage, sacrifice, and love. I was wrung out emotionally and spiritually from the research and the writing.
But then my dear friend, the editor of the fairy tale novel series, Terri Windling, and I had lunch. She said she needed a Sleeping Beauty retelling for her list. Now I, have always found parts of that story highly disturbing.
However, as we were talking, I suddenly remembered something I’d seen in the research for The Devil’s Arithmetic. Watching the movie Shoah I’d heard about the concentration camp “Chelmno” which was set up in a schloss, a castle. Barbed wire surrounded the place, and people were gassed there. And I told Terri about this and how it seemed to me to be the perfect match for the story of Sleeping Beauty: girl/woman in castle, wire/briars, gassed/sleep. The Nazi Commandant the wicked fairy. She said, “Write me that book!” and paid for lunch. The smooth road. Distrust it. I went home, thinking, What have I done to myself. Thinking: More horrific research. Thinking: Piece of cake, perfect metaphor.
Worried that I’d misremembered, I bought a copy of Shoah and paced through it again. All nine hours. Found the mention of Chelmno, wondered if perhaps I’d been spelling it incorrectly, went back to research… and still nothing. Remember, this was 1987-8. Very little Internet around. 
And then fate gave me a little shove. I was at a Jewish Book Fair in New York City at the 92nd Street Y, signing copies of The Devil’s Arithmetic. I had a break for lunch and needing something to read while I ate (doesn’t everybody?), went around the publishers’ booths collecting stuff. One thing I picked up was a brochure for a new Jewish Encyclopedia. It showed what various entries would look like and had chosen to display three from the beginning of the alphabet. 
Until tomorrow: Out of difficulties grow miracles.