Fiddler on the Roof

All posts tagged Fiddler on the Roof

Blog Tour Interview-Why I Do What I Do

Published March 10, 2014 by rochellewisoff

photo (57)

Thank you, Erin Leary for the invitation to participate in this blog tour. Read about her writing process and her novel in progress, BROKEN PARTS here.

Two other authors participating in this week’s tour are Alicia Audrey and Whats-so-funny-russell-gayer.

What am I working on?

At present, Friday Fictioneers takes a fair amount of my time. Besides facilitating, which entails choosing photo prompts, provision of the venue and commenting, I spend at least two days on my own one-hundred word story.

I am a few pages away from finishing edits on my second novel entitled FROM SILT AND ASHES. Once I’m satisfied with how it reads I’ll send it to my agent Jeanie Loiacono who is seeking a home for my first novel PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME. The second book is a sequel to the first. A third book, AS ONE MUST ONE CAN is in the works to create a trilogy.

Generating Genre

My maternal grandmother, Nettie Weinberg, standing. I’m guessing my great-grandmother sitting.

How does my work differ from others of its genre and why do I write it?

My first two novels could be subtitled “The Dark Side of Fiddler on the Roof.” As the granddaughter of Russian Jewish immigrants I’ve always had a personal affinity for the play. However there’s a grisly side to an otherwise romanticized history that isn’t widely known and I wanted to tell the story.

My characters aren’t the stereotypical Jews who settled in New York’s Lower East Side. Like my grandparents, when my main character Havah and her family immigrate to America, they settle in Kansas City.

When I first started to write in earnest, I imagined my muse looked a little like Yenta the Matchmaker. After all, aside from Jewish historical fiction, what else is there? The answer is, “Plenty.”

In 2010 I’d had short stories published in two High Hill Press anthologies. To my surprise  Louella Turner, owner of High Hill Press, emailed to say she wanted to publish an anthology of just my stories. I had to read that email several times. Then I did what any aspiring writer would do when offered a contract, I set the novels aside for a year.   During that time I explored all sorts of themes and settings.

Two years ago I “fell” into Friday Fictioneers, run then by creator Madison Woods. It’s a wonderful venue for further exploration. I’ve tried my hand at memoir, speculative fiction, science fiction and, of course, my favorite genre, historical fiction.

Quite a bit of what I write comes from personal experience. One of the perks of being a bit further along on this journey called life is that I have plenty of grist for the mill. I’m still in discovery mode. In which case, the questions,”how does my work differ from others” and “why do I write it”  are still being answered.

Miriam Reuben Wisoff, my grandmother who was a published poet.

Miriam Wisoff, my grandmother who was a published poet.

How does your writing process work?

Because I work a full time job and have to be there by 7:00 AM, I’m up and at the computer by 3:00, the quietest time of the day. Of course this morning ritual includes caffeine. Must have coffee—strong and black. As sleep-fog lifts I’ll read what I’ve written the day before to see if it’s worthy of survival.

Often I’ll print a chapter or story and then pencil whip it. Then I make the corrections on computer and save it on three flash drives, my  hard drive and an external hard drive. Thank heaven for word processors. If I had to use a typewriter I’d have to own a paper mill and a white-out concern.

Another part of my process is daydreaming which I do during my 45 minute drive to work or while I swim laps.  Conversation or  scenes play out in my head like movies. My job is to figure out the best way to articulate it.

Research is my passion and a huge part of the process. Old newspapers are better than textbooks for history because they’re written in the language of the day. I’ve found some incredible articles that have served as fodder for events in my books. 

One of my biggest pet peeves is to read a piece of fiction where the writer didn’t do his homework. This applies to novels, short stories and screenplays. One such example is a movie I saw a few years back. For the most part it was a wonderful movie. Great acting. Known stars. But the only thing I remember is a scene set in the 50’s or early 60’s and the female lead is holding a piece of Tupperware that didn’t come out until the 70’s. Am I a nitpicker? Perhaps. I’ve been known to spend hours combing the internet to find the origin of a word or phrase to make sure my characters would use it. I can’t have someone in 1903 saying, “Whassup yo?”

An important part of my writing process is feedback from other writers. I used to belong to a wonderful critique group but we disbanded a couple of years ago for the winter and never re-banded. There are still friends I can go to for crit. I am blessed with one particular writing buddy, a gifted writer, who I appreciate for his sometimes brutal honesty.  

So why do I do what I do? Isaac Asimov said it best. “I write for the same reason I breathe–because if I didn’t I would die.”

Nyad in office

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Every writer is unique. Special thanks to these three sister writers who have agreed to participate in the blog tour. Look for their answers next week, Monday, March 17.

Stephanie Briggs

 Born and raised in the Heart of Dixie, STEPHANIE BRIGGS is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a refugee from corporate America. Stephanie charged into adulthood with the words, “No one is going to tell me what to do, I’m joining the military.” Out of the frying pan into the fire, but the choice was hers to make, and she is grateful to the women who fought the good fight to make it possible. A no-nonsense attitude keeps Stephanie true to the value of living an authentic life. She is married to a loyal New York Yankees fan with whom she has raised two children, relocated a dozen times, and shared the best years of her life. She currently resides in Texas where community service, creating content for HonieBriggs.com, and the pursuit of higher education keep her occupied. Experience has taught her there is always more to learn. SUMMONING THE STRENGTH, available on Amazon, is her first published work of fiction.

Marie Gail

MARIE GAIL STRATFORD is a writer, poet, interpretive dancer and all-round creative woman from the greater Kansas City area. She enjoys spending time with her family, especially her five nieces and three nephews, all of whom live nearby. In addition to writing and creating, she passionately loves candles and reluctantly admits to also loving cats. A self-proclaimed “dog person,” she only has two cats, one of whom thinks he is a German shepherd. She hasn’t had the heart to disabuse him of this notion.

Currently, Marie Gail works as a freelancer, creating unique web content for a wide range of clients. Between drafting descriptions of plumbing parts and composing narratives for travel blogs, she also finds time for creative writing projects. Currently, she is working on a book of jazz poetry inspired by the stories and sounds of American roots music. Publication is tentatively set for early this summer, but she wonders if her publisher might be slightly delusional concerning the projected timetable.

imageDAWN QUYLE LANDAU lives in Washington state. She is lucky enough to wake up every day to unparalleled beauty, and is grateful for even the rainy days. There are fewer than most believe, but locals like to perpetuate the rain myth, to keep population down. She has raised three highly spirited kids:  a daughter who now lives in Israel, and two sons. One will graduate from college this May and the other from high school in June, and then her nest, will hypothetically be empty; her husband refuses to leave. To further feather the nest, she had been known to take on exchange students, from China, Denmark and currently from Germany– so her travel options are extensive. She’s been married to her husband, Smart Guy, for 27 years; they met in college. In another life, Dawn got her MSW, and currently volunteers with Hospice, the public schools, the hospital foundation in her community, and a local agency that works with sexually abused kids. “Not working” has her busy, way too much of the time.
When she isn’t volunteering, Dawn is a writer. She has become a huge fan of flash fiction, and never misses a week of Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. She is currently marketing her first novel and working on a memoir, about the year she took in two exchange students, and lost her mother to Huntington’s Disease.  In addition to those two projects, she is an active blogger who posts three times a week. Her blog, Tales From the Motherland, covers everything from raising those three spirited kids, to self-esteem, aging, travel, sex toys, Justin Bieber and her affair with Barack Obama– a post which recently had 1,500 hits in one day!  Her work has been Freshly Pressed on Word Press two times, and she’s proud to be a blogger. 

BLOG HOP!

Published September 24, 2012 by rochellewisoff

What is the working title of your book?

For the past seven years it’s been Please Say Kaddish for Me. Who knows if that will survive?

Where did the idea for the book come from?

Originally my thought was to write about my maternal grandfather’s immigration from Poland in 1903 at the age of 19. But I found that little was really known about his history. So instead of going to Poland I “went” to Kishinev, Moldavia, the site of the first internationally recognized pogrom in 1903.

What genre does your book fall under?

Historical Fiction.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Part of the fun of writing and dreaming is picturing the characters in my head. Some of my players are too old or too dead to play the parts but I see them just the same. 

For Havah Cohen, the headstrong rabbi’s daughter, I see Sasha Cohen, Olympic figure skater turned actress. With her dark brown eyes and Eastern European heritage she certainly looks the part.

If  you’ve ever seen Adrien Brody in The Pianist  you might understand why I see him as Arel Gitterman, the rabbi’s son.  While he loves Havah with a passion, he’s also a man of his word and marries another to whom he’s been betrothed  since early adolescence.

Arel’s father, Yussel Gitterman, who has been blind since contracting encephalitis in his 4o’s is a man of great insight. No doddering, fragile old man this one. I see him portrayed by Michael Douglas.

 Denied her beloved,  Havah  moves to Kishinev where she is employed as housemaid for a German musician, Ulrich Dietrich. A man of strong moral fiber but often tripped up by his own temper he falls in love with Havah. I could see a young Gary Cooper in the role.

Ulrich’s best friend is Russian doctor, Nikolai Derevenko. A brooding loner, he detests the treatment of the Jews in Russia. David McCallum came to mind. Those of us who were Man from UNCLE fans will remember  him as Ilya Kuriyakin. Of course the actor’s in his 70’s now.

Theodore Roosevelt as himself.

 

 

 

What is a one-line synopsis of your book?

After losing her family in a brutal pogrom, a Czarist sanctioned massacre of Jews in turn of the 20th century Eastern Europe, 16 year old Havah Cohen faces insurmountable challenges and ultimately learns that in the deepest darkness one may find the greatest light.

Is your book self-published or do you have an agent?

Currently it’s under contract with Jeanie Pantelakis of Sullivann Maxx Literary Agency.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft only took a few months as a I recall, editing it is another story. In seven years I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve cut, pasted and rewritten.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

There might be similarities to Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter by Peter Manseau, Call it Sleep by Henry Roth and Tevye the Dairyman, a collection of short stories by Sholem Aleichem.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As the granddaughter of Eastern European immigrants I’ve always had a fascination with Jewish history. While much is known about Hitler’s Holocaust little is known about the atrocities foisted on the Jewish people in Russia’s Pale of Settlement beyond Fiddler on the Roof.  Although it’s entertaining  and one of my favorite plays/movies ever, it’s a watered down version of life in the Pale. 

 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Romance. There are at least three threads of unrequited love running through the novel. While Havah and Arel, the rabbi’s son, fall deeply in love he’s betrothed to another.

*****

Thanks for dropping by. I was tagged by janmorrill.wordpress.com

Bloggers I’m tagging

Douglas M. MacIlroy at ironwoodwind.wordpress.com 

Joyce Johnson at jemj47.wordpress.com

 

 

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