Welcome, Uvi, and thank you for breaking from your busy work schedule to chat with us here today.
Before we talk about where you are now, would you like to tell us if there was any one thing that motivated you to write in the first place?
Oh, thank you Rik! Great question. My creative drive in several areas—story telling, poetry, and art—started early in life. Before I knew how to hold a pen in my hand, I would tell stories that my father (a poet, writer and artist himself) would write down for me. He would also ask me to help him rhyme his lines, which introduced me to the music of words and the intricacies of writing.
That really is a lovely introduction to your craft, tell us a little about the work you produce. How much have your experiences filtered into your stories?
There is a lot of me, a lot of my own experiences that are woven into my stories, but it would be hard to map out which scene reflects an actual incident, which dialogue line echoes an actual conversation that I said or heard. Woven into the context of the story, every episode becomes a whole. It encompasses the details and changes the light in which you see them.
Case in point is the Valley of Elah, which is where the famous fight between David and Goliath took place. I have visited the place and to my disappointment, it is a shallow valley, entirely lacking in drama. So in my thinking, the dust of time must have covered the slopes and erased the beauty that must have been present there, long ago. So, I created it anew, in my historical fiction novel Rise to Power:
There, with their backs to me, they are: three silhouettes, drawn sharply against the gray, gloomy landscape. The horsemen in the center is the one I am watching with keen interest. He is tall, formidable, and cloaked. A ray of morning light reaches hesitantly for his crown, sets it afire, and then pulls back.
Ahead of him, the valley opens like a fresh cut. Thin, muddy streams are washing over its rocks, oozing in and out of its cracks, and bleeding into its soil. Layers upon layers of moist, fleshy earth are pouring from one end to another, then halting on a slant, about to slip off. And from down below, somewhere under the heavy mist that hides the bottom of the valley from sight, stir some unexpected sounds.
That in itself reveals one of your methods, but the whole idea of going about research can look like a minefield to an aspiring writer. Is there anything you would like to share that might bring light and ease that worry?
To write my stories with authentic historical detail, I go through meticulous research. For example, two of my novels—The Music of Us and Dancing with Air—are set in WWII era. So, I listened to witness accounts and researched every aspect of that era: the garb and hairstyle of the time, the furniture and appliances, and of course, the timeline of events in the particular locales of the stories.
But beyond all that, I was inspired by popular music of the time, to compose lyrics that will resonate not only with your memories but also with the mood of the characters. The lyrics add another dimension to the romantic feel of this book.
Here is an example:
Do I want you to stay
And be here by my side?
Be my joy and pride
Would I let you leave me
If you say that you must?
Take my heart with you
‘Cause its you that I trust
Would I be counting the days
Till you’re back in my arms?
Enchanted by your charms
Many writers work several projects during the same period, are you one of those? Tell us about your current work.
I write one novel at a time, because I immerse myself in it and am consumed by what the characters do and say. Currently, I am writing my upcoming novel, a WWII thriller titled Marriage before Death, set in France during D-Day and beyond. I hope to publish it at the beginning of the summer.
While writing, I may take upon myself additional, non-writing projects:
- I have just finished the production of theaudiobook edition of my historical novel, The edge of Revolt, with the wonderfully gifted Bob Sterry narrating.
- I organize boxed sets: that was howA Touch of Passion (heading a team of 8 wonderful authors) and Love in Times of War (heading a team of 12 authors) came about.
- I orchestrate a Facebook event calledListen to My heart (with 14 audiobook authors and 37 audiobooks.) You are invited to join the event, for a chance to win prizes.
Would you describe your stories as being realistic? If yes, did it grow from experience or imagination?
Regardless of genre, books can do one of two things: they can let you escape from reality, or they can set a mirror before you where you can see it, even in its darkest corners, with brilliance and precision you have not faced before. My books do both. Set in a different era, for example WWII London, they sweep you away into remembering every detail of that time, from how women styled their hair to how a telephone call from a booth was connected overseas. But arching over all these details is the way you will engage with my characters, and follow them in the hard choices they must make. Their joys and sorrows may reflect what you have gone through in your past. If you want to realize what’s in your heart, read my stories.
Even when I weave the story out my imagination, it becomes utterly real to me, because my characters live in me, from youth to old age, and their experiences become mine.
What about your current projects? Would you care to share a short scene from one of the works?
Oh I would love to! This is from my new novel, Marriage before Death:
Up until this moment I had entertained the hope that she might have had some secret plan to save me. My despair compelled me to believe it.
Coming here in disguise—with that new, flower-laden hat and its little veil that changed her looks so much—showed me that Rochelle was fearless, especially at a time when she was wanted dead-or-alive. To deserve such notoriety, she must have forged some connections with French Resistance fighters, right? If so, couldn’t she pull some strings with them? Did they come along with her? Were they waiting in the wings to get me out of here, out of the the hands of my captors?
Looking anxiously out the narrow window, I recalled old western movies, which I used to watch with my dad and Uncle Shmeel back in my childhood. Closing my eyes I could feel the warmth, sitting in-between them in the darkened movie theatre. I could just see the silver screen. Up there was the victim, his larger-than-life face utterly pale as the noose was beginning to tighten around his neck.
At that very moment, my heart raced. Uncle Shmeel would put his arm around my shoulder. “Don’t you worry, Lenny boy!” he would whisper, so as not to disturb the other spectators around us. “Listen! Can you hear the hooves of horses, galloping?”
“Uncle Shmeel,” I would whisper back, “how can I hear anything? This is a silent movie!”
“Oh, but you can hear it,” he would reply, “inside your mind, inside your heart.”
And my dad would assure me, “Relief is on the way, Lenny boy! The cowboys are coming, any moment now!”
With that glimmer of hope I imagined myself now, just like that actor, standing under the gallows, hoping for a miracle. The rescue scene, exploding with a blaze of bullets, was sure to come, because my dad and Uncle Shmeel had promised it, because the plot had demanded it, and because how would the story capture your heart without the must-have happy end?
Yes. The moment was almost here. I had to believe it, then and now.
How would you describe your writing style?
My writing style is direct. I stay away from complicated words and instead, opt for short ones, to reveal both thought and action in the most honest way.
Because I am an artist, I strive to describe the scene in the most sensual way, putting you in the skin of the character. And because I am a poet, I listen for the rhythms of sentences, and use that music to let the story flow.
What is it you hope a reader will come away with after finishing one of your works?
I hope the reader will feel that the characters live in her mind, that they linger around her long over she finished reading the novel.
You have large followings on Facebook and Twitter, I know. How important do you think social media is and which of the many platforms you use is your favorite?
Lately I have found myself increasingly engaged with readers and listeners. Why? because of my characters. Having sprung from my mind onto the page, they might shrivel and die there, pressed between the front and back covers–unless I make it possible for them to spring from the page to your mind.
I thrive on reaching out to my audience. Every day I discover new ways to create this connection and strengthen it. I made many friends on Facebook, because it is easy to start a conversation there. I enjoy supporting other authors on Twitter, where I now have nearly 30K followers.
It is an amazing journey.
Are there any final words of advice you would give to those looking to develop a writing career?
My best advice to develop your writing—besides reading a lot—is this: read your story aloud in front of a live audience. Listen not only to their comments and suggestions, but more importantly—to their breathing pattern while the story is being read. Are they holding their breath at the right moment? Do they burst out laughing, or wipe a tear when you intended? If not, you must go back to the drawing board and adjust your sentences.