Ellen Roth did not train to be a businesswoman or a novelist or a screenwriter. Yet, this longtime Pittsburgher seems to don adeptly any type of hat she chooses.
Roth originally hails from Cleveland, but moved to Pittsburgh 40 years ago with her husband, Dr. Loren Roth. In the last four decades she has raised a family of three children, become a grandmother of six, earned a doctorate from the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh, founded and ran Getting to the Point, Inc., a relocation service for executives and their families, contributed widely on a host of Jewish and other civic boards and most recently, penned a novel, an illustrated fairy tale for adults called “Ten Fingers Touching.”
The idea for the romantic tale came to Roth several years ago, but she shelved the story for some time as she was growing her business. But in 2012, she decided to cut back on her work with Getting to the Point and devote herself more fully to writing her first piece of fiction.
“I wanted to write a book that people would enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it,” said Roth.
“Ten Fingers Touching,” published by Getting to the Point, Inc., pits Good against Evil along with the story of a young woodsman named Martak, Master of the Forest, who falls in love with a governess named Marianna. The young couple embarks on a journey filled with adventure, curses and danger. Throughout the book, Roth pays homage to the Steel City, weaving in subtle references to Pittsburgh. Good and Evil meet at the Three Rivers, for example, and Martak’s ship is painted black and gold.
“The illustrator, the editor and the man responsible for printing the book are all from Pittsburgh,” Roth noted, emphasizing that she and her husband are diehard Pittsburgh fans.
“We do not support Cleveland,” she stressed.
Like a classic children’s fairy tale, “Ten Fingers Touching” is enhanced by its illustrations, rendered by local artist John Blumen, who Roth discovered while browsing an illustrators’ website.
“I fell in love with his work,” Roth said, adding that she even altered her text in a couple places to more fully comply with some of the illustrations he created for her book.
“The book is a romantic escape for grown-ups,” Roth explained, “but it is dedicated to the youth in every woman. Its beautifully illustrated. The book itself is a work of art.”
Roth earned an MFA from Syracuse University before she moved to Pittsburgh in the 1970s. She worked as a registered art therapist here, helping emotionally disturbed and developmentally disabled children before founding Getting to the Point.
But as far as her business acumen and her writing prowess go, she said, “I have never been taught anything.”
“I was an art major,” she noted. “I never did anything business related; I just knew there was a need.”
Likewise, Roth had no formal training in fiction writing, she said. She just did it.
Wholly enmeshed in the local community, Roth is a member of the National Speakers Association, and has published numerous professional papers and articles. She is the recipient of many awards, and was named one of the Best 50 Women in Business in Pennsylvania. She has served on several boards in the Jewish community, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Women’s Philanthropy Division, the American Jewish Committee, and The Jewish Chronicle. Her husband, Loren, serves as associate senior vice chancellor of Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
“We try to support a lot of Jewish things,” said Roth, who is a member of both Congregation Poale Zedeck and Rodef Shalom.
While “Ten Fingers Touching” is not the first book to enter the niche genre of adult fairytale, it is unique, according to its author.
“I think that most other fairytales for adults have much more graphic content as opposed to mine,” Roth said. “Mine is very tender, and very sweet.”
Next on Roth’s to-do list is to write the screenplay for “Ten Fingers Touching,” and to write a children’s book featuring a character based on her mother.
“Everything you do builds on the next step,” she said.
Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.