Tell us a little about yourself.
I earned her B. A. in Architecture and Town Planning from the Technion in Haifa, Israel, and practiced with an innovative Architectural firm. Then I received a Fellowship grant and a Teaching Assistantship from the Architecture department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and earned her M.A. in Architecture. Then, taking a sharp turn in my education, I earned her M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Michigan. I worked as an architect, and later as a software engineer, software team leader, software manager and a software consultant (with an emphasis on software for medical instruments devices.) You can find my work online at uviart.com. It includes poetry in English and Hebrew, short stories, bronze and ceramic sculptures, oil and watercolor paintings, charcoal, pen and pencil drawings, mixed media and even animation.
How did you decide to enter the world of writing?
I never decided to enter the world of writing--rather, the world of writing has enveloped me from childhood. Before I even know how to hold a pen, my father (who was a published author, a poet and an artist) would ask me to collaborate with him and help him rhyme his poems. He would also read world poetry to me in several languages, none of which I knew, and translate these poems for me on the fly. Which allowed me to appreciate the music of the words, and the emotional impact this music has upon my soul.
Where do you get your ideas?
I get my ideas from the strangest incidents, and sometimes ideas come to me without having to seek them. For example, my novel sprung out from a character of a 12-years old child in a short story I wrote. Here, he is trying to revive a fish that has started to tilt in his aquarium:
“So again I gasp, and with frantic hope, I give a full-blown puff. The red eyes seem to be looking at me, and the tail is hanging over my finger, and it looks limp, and a bit crumpled.
I cannot allow myself to weep. No, not now. So I wipe the corner of my eye. Now if you watch closely, right here, you can see that the tail is still crinkling. I gasp, and blow again. I blow and blow, and with a last-gasp effort I go on blowing until all is lost, until I don’t care anymore, I mean it, I don’t care but the tears, the tears come, they are starting to flow, and there is nothing, nothing more I can do—
Then I feel mom, the smell of her skin. Here she is, wrapping her arms around mine. Softly, gently, she releases the fish, and takes me to their bed, and dad says nothing but makes room for me, and I curl myself in the dent between them, and it feels so warm here and so sweet that at last, I can lose myself, and I cry myself to sleep...”
Ben stayed in my head and would not stop chattering, until I decided to age him by fifteen years, and have him come back to his childhood home and see it from an adult point of view. Which is how my novel, Apart From Love, came into being.
Can you tell us a little about your book?
The characters sprung to life so vividly because they were living in my head for a whole year. The story is told from two points of view, Ben’s and Anita’s, which gave me an opportunity to illustrate how the same events, seen from different angles and through difference experiences in life, are interpreted in an entirely different way.
Anita, the girl in the center of this whirlwind of passion in Apart From Love, had to become a sharp contrast to both Lenny and his son, Ben. Unlike their refined, learned grammar, hers is utterly atrocious... I couldn't just drop in a double negative here and there, so I dropped it in quite liberally... I threw in the word ‘like’ in every one of her paragraphs, just for good measure, and had wicked fun with the way she talks!
Natasha, Ben's mother in my novel Apart From Love, has few lines of dialogue--and yet she leaves a profound, sometimes troubling affect on the other characters. When she appears in the story, it is to mark the distance between what she is and what she used to be, a distance that is expanding in time. Her first line of dialogue, when she asks her husband, "Are you having a thing again," can give you the first inkling you get that words started to escape her.
What is your writing process?
My writing process is always inspired by my art, and my art is inspired by the stories in my head. So I write with my paintbrush and paint with my pen... Which makes reading my stories quite visual, even artistic, as many of my reviewers on Amazon have noted. I always seek to stretch the envelope and work in new mediums, new styles, because it gives me the opportunity to extend the palette of ideas and emotions I describe. This is also why this year I came out with a novel and a poetry book. To me, different genres complement each other.
What was the hardest part for you when working on your book?
I soared through the writing, then waded through the publishing process, because that is one challenge after another! Never a dull moment! To be an Indie author and publisher, you must thrive on problem solving--or else, go the traditional publishing route. To give you but one aspect of publishing, lets talk about the cover design, which I take with the utmost seriousness. It gives a face to my story, and must express it faithfully, in graphical terms. In my mind, when you take my book into your arms, you must be rewarded by holding a work of art. This reward starts with the cover, which opens the door--literally and figuratively--and sweeps you, page after page, into a different world. It continues with an appealing layout of the interior pages, and culminates with the story.
So in the case of the front cover of Apart From Love, I designed it based on my own oil painting. I offer it to your interpretation, if the figure on the cover is dancing out of joy, or else, in sheer frustration, getting herself tied in the red fabric... I likened this fabric to chewing gum, into which you step and can never release yourself. The more you fight to free yourself, the more you become entangled.
Do you have a favorite character?
Do you have a favorite child? Is it possible to choose between them? All I can do here is tell you a bit about seeing one of them through the eyes of the other. Here is how Ben sees Anita, in Apart From Love:
“Anita is bare legged, buttoned up in an oversized, short sleeve cotton shirt, which probably belongs to him. It is crumpled, maybe from rolling around in her messy bed. Although, judging by my father’s condition, as well as his mood, that may have been the only action she got last night.
I can easily see her the way he does: his shirt hangs loosely around her, refusing to disclose any hint of her curves. You can only guess her nipples, because even as you try to pin them down, they sway on her body, roll with every step, when she walks and when she stops, right there by the stove. And only when she turns the button, raising the heat to medium, do they mark their place, briefly, by pressing against the coarse fabric.”
Do you already know what to write next?
Yes! I was invited to participate in an anthology, where several authors create a ‘shared universe’. So I am already writing my next story! It the strangest one imaginable, and have wicked fun with it! Shall I tell you? Only if you can keep a secret...
The central character is Job’s Wife, and she comes, with a twist, out of the biblical fable in The Book of Job. At the beginning of my story she wakes out to find herself in Hell, which she describes in colorful detail, including the fallen angels on each side of her cave:
“I cast a quick glance this way and that, and see—just outside the mouth of the cave—two figures standing guard. Only they are standing upside down, perfectly frozen. Icy wings hang down from their shoulders, broken. And splinters are scattered on the dirt all around them. They are so still that it seems they have been carved from pillars of salt—if not for their feet twitching up there, above me.”
This story will be included in Dreamers in Hell, an anthology of stories coming up later this year.
Where can we find more information about you and your books?
Do you have any last words?
I avoid last words at all cost, because as a writer you know the end is bound to be coming soon, just to make your words sound more prophetic... So all I can say is, stay tuned!
What would you like to buy for yourself?
I would like to buy high heels that are so high I can never step into them. Just because.
My favorite song, performed by Eva Cassidy, is Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I have discovered this only recently. Her interpretation is profoundly beautiful, more than any other. During a promotional event for the Live at Blues Alley album in July 1996, Cassidy noticed an ache in her hips, which she attributed to stiffness from painting murals while perched atop a stepladder. The pain persisted and a few weeks later, x-rays revealed that the cancer had spread to her lungs and bones. She died at 33.