By Kyla Thomas —

Best-selling author Dani Shapiro visited the University of Louisville Sept. 25 to promote her newest book, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love. 

Ian Stansel, the U of L creative writing department head, spearheaded a Q&A session with Shapiro. She opened up about the birth of her newest book.

Earlier this year, on a whim, Shapiro took a DNA test to find out more about her family history. Shocked, she found out the father she grew up with was not her biological father. After recovering from the initial shock, she began a journey to find her biological father, which she did in 36 hours.

“I was in this experience of shock, I was traumatized by this discovery. I felt destabilized like I was going to faint, but at the same time this other part of me, that all writers have, kept telling me this is an amazing story,” Shapiro said.

Through Shapiro’s journey of discovery, she struggled coming to terms with the fact that a large part of her life has somewhat been a lie and so she wrote.

“I don’t see life any other way, I think that’s why I felt instantly that I should be writing and thinking like a writer about it, I don’t know how to think without writing. I write in order to understand, what I know, what I fear, and what I think,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro’s father passed away, before the book hit the shelves. At the end of the discussion Shapiro commented on how she was able to write about her father’s decision without the guilt of his passing.

She recounted how the first story to come out on her book featured a photo of her and her father on a beach.

“It’s a joyful photograph of a young father on the beach with his adoring little girl. I felt such a pang looking at it, because my father wanted to take this story to the grave with him and he did. He succeeded,” Shapiro said, “It is literally the story of how I came to exist, but I can’t say that I haven’t felt pangs about it.”

Shapiro’s book, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love is out now.

Photo Courtesy by Michael Maren