Interview

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INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR RICHARD D. SMALL

Published January 14, 2019 by rochellewisoff
Two and a half years ago I received an email from a man in Israel named Rich Small who had submitted his manuscript to my agent entitled “Elisheva’s Diary.” He had found PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME on my agent’s website and ordered a copy. Over the course of a few emails we found much in common, including Eastern European Jewish backgrounds. Meanwhile, my agent rejected his manuscript, saying it needed too much work. So my newfound friend asked if I might take a look at it. 
As it turned out, I took many, many looks at it and had the privilege of watching the work grow and progress. Rich has been gracious about accepting my suggestions and putting up with my kvetching and nagging. 😉 Between emails, hangouts and Skype we’ve become friends. And the proverbial icing on the cake is that ELISHEVA’S DIARY has been published by Touch Point Press
Feeling a little like the book’s auntie, I interviewed Rich for my blog. I hope you will enjoy both our conversation and his book which is a unique little gem that blends past and present, as I did. 
Richard D. Small lives in Metula, the northernmost point of Israel, not far from Tel Dan and Tel Kedesh.  He received  PhD from Rutgers University in Aerospace Engineering. He taught at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology before joining a California Think Tank as Director for Thermal Sciences, founded Eastwind Research Corporation, and served in the Israeli Army.  Biographical sketches have included Who’s Who in America, and various scientific Who’s Who listings.  His work in science has been internationally recognized and featured on TV and radio including 60 Minutes, newscasts, and in magazines.  He is an avid student of history.  His passions include cooking, opera, reading, building cabinets, and gardening.  Elisheva’s Diary is his first novel.
***

 

  • Tell us about you and your life outside of writing.

Nature and its mysteries fascinated and motivated me to study science and pursue a career solving problems. I was fortunate to work on several problems of national interest.

I live in Metula overlooking the Hula or as it was known in biblical times the Merom Valley. From my living room, I see ancient locations that carry the long history of the Jewish people. In front of my house is a Tel, Evel Beit Maacah, that is now being excavated. Maacah was King David’s fourth wife and the mother of Tamar and Avshalom. Many of the great leaders of the ancient world passed through the valley.

The valley, aside from being spectacularly beautiful in all seasons, has several ancient sites: Tel Dan, Tel Anafa, Hazor, Banias, and Tel Kedesh. The streams flowing through the valley water a fertile soil that provides a rich bounty. It is a peaceful valley replete with protected wildlife and dotted with national parks celebrating and preserving the beauty of nature.

It is special to live in a place where recorded events date from the beginnings of western civilization. It is a land that beckons the history and civilization buried in us all.

 

  • After a career as a renowned scientist, why did you decide to write a novel? What inspired you?

I had always wanted to write a novel. From a very young age, I enjoyed reading and greatly admired authors that could transport you to another world and portray love, hate, tragedy, triumph, the beauty of nature and the magnificence of the human spirit.

 

  • What was the most difficult scene in Elisheva’s Diary? What made it difficult?

The death of Elisheva’s husband. For me, death is difficult to describe. It is definitive that leaves surviving family injured, saddened and takes a little of life from them.

 

  • What sort of research did you do for your work?

I read several books about the history of the Mediterranean focusing on the Galilee region of Israel. I picked the period about 50 BC for several reasons. Momentous events such as the clash of empires, the emergence of Rome as the predominant power, and a political atmosphere not unlike today were shaping the world at that time.

 

  • Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there an author that inspires you?

I have quite an eclectic taste in books. I enjoy novels, history, cook books, science fiction occasionally, and books that make me think. At different periods, I have enjoyed John Steinbeck, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Bruce Catton, Barbara Tuchman, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Francis Fukuyama, Mark Helprin, and a long list of others including RW-F. 😉

 

  • Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
  • I wanted to write, but found I had a lot to learn about writing and crafting a story. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields guided, taught, encouraged and without her, Elisheva’s Diary would never have been completed.
  • What would you say are your strengths as an author?

I cite two: empathy and a great appreciation for nature which I can translate to words.

 

  • Do you have another work in progress? If so, how often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?

I have started research for a new book. It will relate a story from the time of King Solomon. The research will take another half year or so before I start to write.

 

  • Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?

Hopefully having published a second novel.

 

  • If you could offer one piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?

Don’t quit. Keep writing until your story is complete.

  • What would you consider the best compliment a reader could give your book?

“I liked Elisheva.”

  • Would you provide an excerpt of your writing that you would like to share with my readers?

Chapter Four

My City—April 3675 (85 BC)

I was born in paradise three thousand six hundred sixty-five years after the creation of the world. Dan was well known when Abraham and Sara arrived from Ur. In the beginning, the city was named Laish, and only hundreds of years later did the Israelite tribe of Dan cross the Jordan, after 40 years in the desert, to settle in the city. Legend says Dan first arose a thousand years after Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden. I am proud of my city; it has a grand history filled with triumphs as well as much sorrow and anguish.

I cannot imagine a more beautiful place on Earth than the Merom Valley. To the east, the Golan Heights rise to a high plateau. Across the valley, the hills, home to the tribe of Naphtali, frame the Merom Valley in the west. Every evening, I delight in the breathtaking harmony and beauty as the Golan glows a soft pink in the setting sun, while the hills of Naphtali darken to a deep purple. The valley floor accents the surrounding hills with a rainbow of colors from the orchards, fields, vineyards, and forests.

Twice a year, countless numbers of storks, cranes, egrets, pelicans, and herons fill the sky heralding a change of season. Vast flocks, tired from their journey, seek safety and respite in the fields around the small sea. In the morning, I watch amazed as they face the warm sun, capture its energy, and spiral upwards to continue their journey.

I have always taken the beauty of my city and its surroundings as normal. Aba often told me of his travels across Israel to the Great Salt Sea in the west, to magnificent cities along the coast, to inland valleys, and to the desert in the south. He said the desert holds a special beauty—siren colors at sunset and the tranquility of a seducing wind at night under a sky filled with countless stars. Often shooting stars, traversing the heavens in seconds, punctuate the night panorama. But surely, nothing compares with Dan.

From my home, I look east to Mount Hermon. Like a giant shielding us from a hostile world, it stands over Dan dominating the hills to the north and the plateau to the south. Clouds sometimes hide the peak’s majesty, and swirling storms mask it in a threatening atmosphere. On clear days, sunlight reflects from the forests and valleys on the lower elevations and projects magnificence, breathtaking to behold. During much of the year, a blanket of snow covers the upper reaches of the mountain. It is the source of the icy pure water flowing through Dan. In the winter, the blinding white peak often mirrors the sunset’s rainbow of pastel colors.

I am lucky to live in the most beautiful part of the most beautiful kingdom in the whole world.

I have listened to travelers talk about the Galilee. They describe marvelous towns and villages built in beautiful settings: sculpted valleys with plentiful water and rich soil. Their descriptions of Kedesh are so vivid I can almost feel the excitement of the big market. Farmers send produce from the fields around Dan, and our artisans send goods from our ceramic and metal workshops through Kedesh to the coastal cities of Lebanon in return for rare woods, glass, cloth, dyes, and manufactured goods that arrive in Tyre and Sidon from Greece, Egypt, and Rome. Kedesh itself is built on a large hilltop surrounded by a rich valley famous for well-kept vineyards and exquisite wines.

They speak of olive groves on the road leading to the Great Sea. The trees twisted and gnarled as generation after generation of growth is added to life drawn from the soil.

Travelers from distant lands tell me the Great Sea is a wonder. Salty to the taste, it contains strange fish and exotic creatures not found in the Merom or the Kinneret seas. They say, sometimes, like the tempests blanketing Mount Hermon, storms rage over the Great Sea, with relentless waters swirling in an angry rhythm and pounding the shore; sometimes the sea turns a deep blue hiding a mysterious depth, and sometimes it is tranquil.

They speak of a beautiful land beyond the Galilee: villages located across a varied geography, ranging from mountains rich in forests, tranquil deserts producing fine wines, a coastal plain with thick forests, abundant agriculture, and rich fishing: all with a well-developed ethical and cultural life.

And towering above everything, the crown jewel of Israel and the world, the magnificent city of David and Solomon, the location of our Temple, Jerusalem.

 

 

Purple Prose and Passion on the Airwaves

Published November 2, 2018 by rochellewisoff

PURPLE PROSE AND PASSION ON THE AIRWAVES

Wow! Where does the time go? Nearly a year ago I did a radio interview with Dr. Paul Reeves on his Family Talk program. At the time we chatted about writing, Friday Fictioneers and the coffee table companion book I was working on.

A STONE FOR THE JOURNEY debuted the first week in September so Dr. Paul invited me back to discuss my opus. 😉 

He has a way of putting the interviewee at ease. I think that particular morning the conversation could’ve continued well into the afternoon. We spoke of the joys of aging while staying young. As we did last year, we talked about Friday Fictioneers which is so much a part of my life. I hope you enjoy listening to the interview as much as I enjoyed doing it. 

Stay Tuned for Part 2 as Dr. Paul invited me back to read a few selections from A STONE FOR THE JOURNEY. It’s tentatively set to air Monday, November 26. 

Shalom, 

Rochelle

Guess Blogger: Friday Fictioneers

Published April 9, 2018 by rochellewisoff

Many have read my story of my Friday Fictioneers beginnings before. For those who haven’t, my thanks to Phyllis for inviting me to do a guest blog.

MythRider

Friday Fictioneer is a weekly writing challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Field. She posts a photograph and the challenge is to write a 100 word short story.

I asked Rochelle if she’d like to give us the history of how she became involved and eventually the host of FF. Here is her story:

HERDING CATS

Six years ago, as a newly published author of a short story anthology, writing and rewriting my first novel, I didn’t have much of a direction for my blog. The few articles I posted were met with overwhelming disinterest.

One April day I noticed a Facebook post by someone named Madison Woods on the Ozarks Writers League page announcing the time had come for Friday Fictioneers. I found the title intriguing so I asked her about it.

She explained that every Wednesday she put up a photo and each participant was to insert it into…

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26 January 2018

Published January 24, 2018 by rochellewisoff

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The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit. 

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook


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Saturday, January 27th is the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. The following story is one that I discovered a few years back and never ceases to fascinate me. 

Genre: Realistic Fiction based on a True Story

Word Count: 100

RENOVATION

As he did every morning, Dov Ben Avraham recited the Sh’ma, “Hear O, Yisrael, Adonai is our Lord, Adonai is one.” The Hebrew words from Deuteronomy 6 were sweet to his tongue and uplifting to his heart. After saying his final amen, he added, “Thank you for making me a Jew.”

Later that night, at the synagogue he prepared to tell his story at a memorial dinner to honor those who perished at Auschwitz.

Gazing at a few survivors among the guests, Dov, Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger, said, “Please forgive me for the sins of my father, a Nazi tank commander.”

 

 Bernd Wollschlaeger, M.D.

 

To see an interview with Dr. Wollschlaeger CLICK HERE

22 December 2017

Published December 20, 2017 by rochellewisoff

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Our Mantra

The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit. 

PHOTO PROMPT © Björn Rudberg

Please be respectful of your fellow writers/readers and keep your stories to 100 words. Thank you. 

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Genre: Realistic Fiction

Word Count: 100

THE MANLY ART OF GIVING

            The bars clanked behind me. My pulse thudded in my ears.

            My first interviewee, a hulk you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley, put me at ease.

            “It gives ya peace of mind.” DeShawn looped pink yarn around his sausage-sized fingers. “This gonna be a blanket for my niece.”

            Several tough-looking inmates proudly showed off scarves and hats they’d made for inner city kids for Christmas. 

            “It don’t change what we done, but I hope it makes up for some of the hurt we caused.” DeShawn’s ebony eyes gleamed. “Every strong man has a pair of knitting needles.”

For a little more CLICK HERE

 

ISLAND OF GOOD FORTUNE

Published December 2, 2017 by rochellewisoff

Hope you brought your hazmat suit, because this week Pegman takes us to Fukushima, Japan, site of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters, which occurred in 2011. Believe it or not, you’ll find both streetview and photospheres in this abandoned town.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to write 150 words inspired by the location. You can capture your own photo from google or use the one provided.

Click on the blue frog below to add your story to this week’s link-up and to read the work of your co-contributors.

I’m never sure from week to week if I’ll participate in What Pegman Saw. However the lure of those extra 50 words is strong. Many thanks to K Rawson and J Hardy Carroll. 

Namie Choritsu Ukedo Elementary

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Word Count: 150

ISLAND OF GOOD FORTUNE

As a Japanese-American reporter I begged for the assignment to interview Fukushima survivors five years after the tsunami. What could be more fun? Sushi and kimono.

Walking along Kakamura beach with Hiroshi, I turn on my recorder.   

He clutches a stuffed bear. “Last night I had a dream. The ocean swelled and rose to the mountains. I woke in a tidal wave of sweat. It was no dream.”

My breath catches in my throat. “Go on.”

“It was like being in hell. If the waters did not kill you, the great fires would.”  From his pocket Hiroshi pulls a photograph of a smiling woman holding a little boy. He hugs the teddy bear. “My son was only four. My Yumi expected our second child any day.”

I swallow hard.

“The water is beautiful.” His gaze drifts past me. “I suppose it is nonsense to hold a grudge against the sea.”

A Lovely Interview

Published November 14, 2017 by rochellewisoff

I will make this blog short and, hopefully, sweet. 

Last week I had the unexpected pleasure of interviewing with Dr. Paul Reeves on Impact USA out of Detroit. Click on his name under the photo to learn more. 

I say unexpected because it all came about quickly and seemingly out of nowhere. 

I was chatting in a Facebook private message with friend Caroline Giammanco , author of “The Boonie Hat Bandit” and “Guilty Hearts” who asked if I would be interested in doing an interview. If so she could get me in touch with Deborah Ratliff who gathers info for Dr. Paul. (Are you with me?) I emailed my particulars to Deborah and within hours I received an email from Dr. Paul. I’ll stop there since my head’s spinning just writing it. 

Here I am with Caroline in Chicago May before last.

Without further adieu, here’s the interview if you have 30 minutes to spare. For those of you in Friday Fictioneers, you’ll note that the subject came up more than once. Perhaps we’ll see Dr. Paul in our midst as a Fictioneer in the not too distant future. 

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