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BLOG: Writers of the Lost Arc

Nailing the Yiddish-flavored Accent

So thrilled to hear a great actor is narrating my Courtyard Kabbalist novel. The audio just got released today – timed with Chanukah? A number of actors tried out for the part and they were all impressive, but when I heard Sam Guncler’s perfect inflexion when he said, “milchigs and fleishigs” I sat up and thought: Who is this guy? He sounded like home. I checked his acting credits: The Good Wife, Law & Order, The Sopranos, nice, nice, nice, but then I saw listed “The Quarrel” -- and realized I’d seen Sam play the part of a former yeshiva student facing off against a Hassid in an intellectual/spiritual show down.  Read More 
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Food & Proverbs

I came across a writing tip from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Anne Tyler. She was trying to get into the head of her Iranian character, and she said (I wish I knew where) that she consciously uses food as an entry point into her characters, especially if they are from foreign cultures – capturing the  Read More 
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Why I like Writing about Older Singles, Failed Men & Other Stuff

Journalist Michael Orbach asked me a few questions for "Jewish Action" and I thought I'd share the Q&A:

Q: Was it difficult leaving Israel?

A: I remember my last day there, I felt like my stomach was getting ripped out of me. I’ll put it this way: In Israel whenever I got in someone’s daled amos, their four cubits of space, I could almost hear a song under the breath. There was this uplift, this musicality that was thrumming through Israeli life. When I came to America it felt a lot saner but there was just so much less beauty. I didn’t feel that underlying spiritual bass rhythm.

Q: Both your main characters seem flawed. What is it that attracted you to write about them?

A: I think that, if I’m honest, I’m very attracted to writing about failed men. Men who are on the verge; Isaac is the almost person: he almost became a rabbi; he almost married the woman of his dreams; he almost started a yeshiva. [I’m interested in] people who strive but are not quite there. People who are successful don’t always strike me as interesting. They’re not in a state of yearning because often a person who is successful has already arrived, at least in his or her own mind, and so they’re just boring to me, fairly or not.

That’s why I’m also attracted to singles, especially older singles. They’re in limbo, not there yet, whatever ‘there’ means.  Read More 
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"Saving Mr. Banks," and the psychic burdens children carry

Oh, the things you'll tell a blogger you've never met that you wouldn't tell your mother or friend.

Deborah Kalb asked how I came to write about a certain character in my novel. Here's what I answered. " Then there’s Mustafa, an Arab janitor on the Temple Mount with a horrible case of torticollis – his neck twists permanently over one shoulder. Somehow this man so different from myself wandered into my creative unconscious and I had no idea why.

But then I recently saw the wonderful movie, "Saving Mr. Banks," and it touched so many chords in me. It becomes clear that Travers wrote Mary Poppins to save her talented drunk of a father. She carries the psychic burden of her father’s failures and it weighs heavily on her. My father’s life, his struggles, also weighed heavily on me. Like Mustafa, he suffered from a strange physical deformity – he was missing an ear from a car accident as a child.  Read More 
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