(above) 6 E. Liberty Street. Savannah residence of my grandmother, Rosa Smith Usher. Her brownstone has changed hands several times since her death. Most recently, it is home to several small businesses, including the independent bookstore "The Book Lady". First birthday, 6. E. Liberty Street. Savannah, Georgia. I am standing on the stoop of my grandmother Usher's brownstone, the same place where "The Book Lady" sign now appears.
. . . On Saturday mornings, after a breakfast of Oscar Mayer link sausage and scrambled eggs and small slices of cinnamon pastry, I retreated to the rooms on the abandoned fourth floor. The smell here was all grandmother, all soft and sweet, like musty cotton felt. This was my writing cloister, a windowless room in my grandmother’s Savannah brownstone, its primary feature a 1920 black Olivetti typewriter. I was ten and I was writing my first novel, manually extracting one letter, and then one word, and then one sentence at a time. It was a murder mystery with a heroine remarkably similar to Nancy Drew. For a month or two, I took the completed chapters into school and, with the indulgence of my fifth grade teacher, read them aloud in class. However, Destiny intervened at Christmas when I read Little Women and decided to write and direct a stage adaptation of Alcott's novel instead.