When I downloaded my novel Jewish Days Arab Nights to create space and kindle little did I know what was about to unfold in Israel and in Gaza. I have watched and read the news with sadness. Israel/Palestine is a beautiful country with fascinating people whatever your political leanings are. I am heartened to see that today is the third day of a cease fire and that talks are underway. Lest hope peace will prevail.
The idea for this novel first came to me after my return from living in Israel back in 1989. But like most people I just got on with my life, occasionally attempting to compile ideas and sentences, with a dream of writing a book. It’s one story of many about Israel, a country the size of Wales. And it is work of fiction. But many events and incidents happened and these have been weaved into the patchwork of fact and fiction. I hope I have weaved the two together so well, that where fact and fiction collide the crash is invisible.
It took me five years to write. Not because I had suffered from writers block because fortunately that never occurred. But I was working two jobs, sometimes 18 hours a day. I was so tired on occasions my brain was in a fog, from where I could see nothing and barely knew what day of the week it was. But somehow my story formed and grew and finally became the book it is today.
The whole event of publishing on create space and kindle for a complete technophobe like me was a nightmare from which I really thought I would never wake up from. But thanks to the wonderful Elizabeth Kay a brilliant writer and teacher, I got there.
I often wondered what it would be like for an author to be sold on Amazon, now I know. At first when I looked at the cover with my name on, I thought what the hell I have done! Now people will read me and people will pass judgement. Was I really emotionally up to the challenge?
And then I remembered. I lived every line, every word, and every heat beat of this book. Depending on my state of mind as each draft was completed, I either dismissed it as utter tripe or embraced it as sheer genius. I read the lines so many times that I often no longer cared if the lead characters really lived or died. I read the same book over and over again for five years, day in day out. There were times I actually loathed it. Staring at the sheets of paper piled in the corner of the room with hatred.
Times in a snow filled winter when I tried to remember a hot Israeli summer. I obsessed about the plot during many sleep deprived nights. And then along came the one thing I failed on spectacularly. Proof reading. The endless edits, an apostrophe there, a full stop somewhere else, speech marks, commas. Mistakes crawled across the page every morning like new born spiders.
Now in the cold light of a creative free day, I know this is just the start. This was my learning curve. I have survived the cliched ridden personal journey. And I am now a published author.
When asked about a sequel I had very quickly said “No never again.” But now as I stare at my name on the front cover I am thinking – how the hell can I get myself back into Israel to begin the next story? Before Mossad or the IDF catch up with me. And will my readers believe me when I say it’s just a work of fiction.
The final question I get asked is – Is Fiona me? Well I put my heart and soul into this book. Fiona is part of me perhaps, or part of me I would have liked to have been, or perhaps once was. But she is not me and I am not her.
I spent many trips over the last five years returning to Israel researching. My last trip I found myself in the southern Negav, near the “Wilderness of Zin”. A beautiful part of the country, where come sunset, shadows crept across the wadi like peace across a troubled land.