Rochelle Hollander Schwab grew up in the Bronx, but traveled to Ohio to attend Antioch College. One evening at a Friday night folk dance she said hello to a couple she knew who lived in town. "Hi," they replied, "Do you know Dick Schwab?" Another dance began, and they danced away. Dick didn't dance, so he and Rochelle stood and talked, then went out for pizza. A few months later they stood together again -- under a canopy at their traditional Jewish wedding ceremony.
The latest of Rochelle's four novels also features a wedding -- a traditional Jewish lesbian wedding! In A Departure from the Script, the protagonist is a Jewish mother who helps her lesbian daughter plan her wedding to her partner -- behind her husband's back. If this isn't enough tsuris (Yiddish for aggravation) for one person, mom finds herself falling for another woman. It's a comic novel, but with something serious to say about love, marriage and family, and includes discussion questions for reading groups.
She enjoys biking, walking and visiting grandchildren. No children or pets left at home (unless a retired husband counts).
My husband and I live in the Washington, DC area, where A Departure from the Script is set. I've been active in Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). My work in PFLAG, and my relationship with my two daughters, spurred this fictional exploration of family issues.
My previous novels as well -- in particular, In a Family Way, which is the story of a custody fight over the child of a lesbian couple when the birth mother is killed -- focus on the theme of family. The question that book asks, as does A Departure from the Script, with its conflict over a lesbian wedding, is what makes a "real family?" I see this question as having broader implications than the words "gay issue" would imply. Is it solely the traditional nuclear family, limited to the people related to you by flesh and blood, or can it be extended to include people that you love? So I was thrilled that the editorial board of Reading Group Choices picked these two novels as books that can generate stimulating discussions for reading groups (In a Family way in the 1997 edition and A Departure from the Script in the 2002 edition).
As might be guessed, I'm a strong supporter of GLBT equal rights, and have written a few op-eds supporting marriage equality -- one of which was included in a college textbook on writing.