Today I welcome fellow Crooked Cat author Miriam Drori. Hello, Miriam! It’s been a while since you last visited my blog, back in 2014.
Has it been that long? The time has flown by.
How has life been treating you since then?
Two years ago, there were five creatures living in this house. Now there are three. One died – the cat. And one moved out.
With no dependents to worry about, my husband and I have been able to travel far and wide. In the last two years, we’ve visited Switzerland, India, the UK, Hong Kong and Russia.
Two years ago, my novel Neither Here Nor There had only just been published. Now, my baby is growing up, sales are still chugging along, and it’s wondering whether there will ever be a younger sibling to join it. (I’m not wondering – I’m working on it.)
Tell us about your novel.
The two young players in this tale weren’t likely to meet. Mark was born and raised in London. Esty grew up in a closed, ultra-orthodox neighbourhood of Jerusalem. But Mark decided to leave his comfortable environment to carve out a new life for himself in Jerusalem, while Esty made the bold step of leaving the only lifestyle, family and friends she ever knew. Their different backgrounds clash and combine as Mark and Esty try to avoid the stumbling blocks that appear on their path.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I’m writing half of a novel based on The Women Friends, a painting by Gustav Klimt. This project has introduced me to two aspects of writing: collaboration and historical fiction. Fortunately, my co-writer has experienced both before and I’ve learnt a lot from her.
When I’ve finished that, I want to finish off another novel I wrote, part of which is set in Japan.
You recently won a 100 word short story competition – how do you see the relationship between short and longer fiction?
I feel it’s easier to experiment in short fiction. I’ve written weird descriptions that I wouldn’t dare try in a novel. I’ve included impossible events. One short story of mine, published in an anthology, uses the second person singular. I know all of these can and have appeared in longer fiction, but it’s much harder to make them work. I don’t think I could bring off a whole novel written in the second person.
On the other hand, longer fiction lends itself to opportunities that shorter fiction doesn’t have. There is space to delve into descriptions of people and places; to try to fathom the minds of characters and work out what makes them do what they do. Readers can get to know the characters in a novel, while a short story is generally too short for that.
You’re a regular blogger yourself. What do you see as the purpose and benefits of blogging?
Your blog is your personal space in the stratosphere, where you have control over what appears. In a blog post, you can say things that are a bit longer and more meaningful than a tweet or even a Facebook status. You can post stories, poems and pictures in a blog. For me, my blog is a place where I can write things I can’t say.
I began my blog anonymously, afraid to admit to who I am. I expected negative comments, but actually haven’t received any at all. So gradually I “came out” as Jewish and Israeli and living with social anxiety. Personal development has been one of the benefits of blogging.
As part of the control, you can choose the direction of your blog to suit your requirements at any time. My blog will soon be changing direction. (Watch this space.)
You grew up in London but now live in Jerusalem. Do you ever miss the UK?
I miss rain in the summer (although in general I prefer our weather). I miss the way cars stop even before I’ve reached a zebra crossing. I miss the orderly queues, where no one pushes in at the last minute and says, “I was here.” I miss the underground, Branston Pickles, salt ’n’ vinegar crisps and large parks.
But I’ve lived in Israel for almost forty years and it’s where I belong.
Finally, what question would you have liked me to ask that I didn’t?
Ooh, crafty! How about this: You just spent a week in Russia. What have you learnt from that visit?
And what is the answer?
As a child, I heard a lot about Russia. My brother visited and then studied there. My aunt and uncle visited. I heard about stern officials, supermarkets only for foreigners while Russians queued for meagre supplies, Jews in a synagogue too scared to talk to foreigners.
Russia is very different now. The two cities we visited, Moscow and St Petersburg, look like thriving European cities. Moscow’s Jewish Museum is modern and prominent; interesting, too.
A couple of things I saw fit with my impressions from the many Russians I’ve met here in Israel. One is that they smoke a lot. The other is that sometimes they have a strange way of thinking; things that are obvious to them are not for anyone else. In what other capital city do you exit the metro and spend half an hour looking for the train to the second biggest city in the country? No, this wasn’t a language problem because OH knows how to read Russian. There simply wasn’t a sign.
Thanks for dropping in, Miriam, and for those interesting answers!