DJGBC Interview: Author Uvi Poznanzsky “Apart From Love”

Where are you from?
I was born in Israel, and came to the US to study in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for my Master in Architecture.
Tell us your latest news?
On Friday the 13th (of July) I ran a book promotion on Amazon; by the second day, my novel Apart From Love reached #6 in Contemporary Fiction! Being a completely unknown author coming out of obscurity, this is utterly amazing to me. But beyond that, stands the simple fact that now, nearly four thousand readers are holding my book in their hands. This, in a sense, is a handshake; a touch between me and you.
The book has drawn numerous 5-star reviews–all of them articulate and highly informative–on a variety on reading sites, most notably on Amazon. If you wish to read them, take a look here: http://www.amazon.com/Apart-From-Love-Uvi-Poznansky/product-reviews/0984993207/
The very same month, I was interviewed on two radio shows, pondering the process of writing, and the role of creativity:
One radio interview with Cameron Datzker, who asked me to come on his show, Sports and Life on LA Talk Radio. You can take a listen here: http://uviart.blogspot.com/2012/07/interview-tonight-sports-and-life-on-la.html
And another radio interview with The host of Triangle Variety Radio, Patrick Walters, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/trianglevariety/2012/07/21/patricks-interview-with-uvi-poznansky-1
This month I am scheduled to come on two more radio shows, which gives me an opportunity to bring Apart From Love to the attention of an ever-widening audience.
When and why did you begin writing?
I began telling stories and composing poems before I learned to write. When I was a little girl, my father, a published author and poet in Israel, would often invite me to ‘help’ him rhyme his lines. Later when I was in grade school, the principal called my parents for a meeting. He was worried because a story I wrote described the emotions of the character in a way that was ‘alarmingly vivid.’ When I moved to a new school, he wrote a letter to the principal, telling him that this student is destined to become a writer
What inspired you to write your book?
Over a year ago I wrote a short story about a twelve years old boy coming face to face, for the first time in his life, with the sad spectacle of death in the family. In the story, Ben watches his father  trying to revive his frail grandma, and later he attempts the same technique on the fish tilting upside down in his new aquarium.
“I cannot allow myself to weep. No, not now. So I wipe the corner of my eye. Now if you watch closely, right here, you can see that the tail is still crinkling. I gasp, and blow again. I blow and blow, and with a last-gasp effort I go on blowing until all is lost, until I don’t care anymore, I mean it, I don’t care but the tears, the tears come, they are starting to flow, and there is nothing, nothing more I can do—”
I set the story aside, thinking I was done with it. But the character of the boy, Ben, came back to me and started chatting, chatting, chatting in my head. It became the seed of my novel.
In writing it I asked myself, what if I ‘aged’ him by fifteen years? Where would he be then? Would he still admire his father as a hero, or will he be disillusioned at that point? What secrets would come to light in the life of this family? How would it feel for Ben to come back to his childhood home, and have his memories play tricks on him? What if I introduce a girl, Anita, a redhead who looks as beautiful as his mother used to be, but is extremely different from her in all other respects? And what if this girl were married to his father? What if the father were an author, attempting to capture the thoughts, the voices of Ben and Anita, in order to write his book?
So the process of writing became, for me, simply listening to the characters and trying, as fast as I could, to capture their thoughts.
My role as an author was merely suggesting a place, coming up with the stage set and illuminating it as appropriate for the time of day, and allowing the characters to describe what they see and to act out their passions and fears.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I write in various styles, as dictated by the subject. If you read the posts on my blog, you will find mini-articles about a variety of writing and publishing issues, explanation of the creative process as it relates to my painting and sculpture. Also, you will find poems, short stories, and teasers (excerpts) from Apart From Love. In short, every morning you will find something new and unexpected.
How did you come up with the title?
The title Apart From Love comes from a phrase used in the story:
“After a while I whispered, like, Just say something to me. Anything. And I thought, Any other word apart from Love, ’cause that word is diluted, and no one knows what it really means, anyway.”
Anita to Lenny
“Why, why can’t you say nothing? Say any word–but that one, ’cause you don’t really mean it. Nobody does. Say anything, apart from Love.”
Anita to Ben
“For my own sake I should have been much more careful. Now–even in her absence–I find myself in her hands, which feels strange to me. I am surrounded–and at the same time, isolated. I am alone. I am apart from Love.”
Ben
How much of the book is realistic?
The storyline in Apart From Love is entirely fictional.
What book are you reading now?
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I truly enjoyed a non-fiction book: Joan of Arc: The Mystic Legacy by Marcia Quinn Noren. Another book, a coming of age romance, is Embracing You, Embracing Me by Michelle Bellon.
What are your current projects?
I am currently working on a book that will include poems by my father, who passed away at the age of ninety-four, as well as my poems and stories inspired by his life. The working title is A Sentence, Unfinished.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My writing group–a handful of talented writers and poets who listened every week to my reading the next chapter in the story. Their feedback was invaluable: I listened to their comments (and applied changes according to some of them) but most of all, I listened to the way they gasped, breathed, laughed and cried while I was reading.
Do you see writing as a career?
No. I have had two successful careers–one as an architect, the other as a software engineer, both of which enrich and inform my writing. My literary work, and my art, are two expressions of creativity I cannot live without. If not for writing, I would not be here. Here, for example, are Ben’s words in Apart From Love , which I lifted, word for word, from a different context in my memoir, several years before the novel:
“I have no will. I have no curiosity. Of its own, my finger is passing with barely a touch along the blade until suddenly, catching on a spot, it halts. Rust, perhaps. I raise my hand over to the light, careful not to tighten my hold over the thing. A cold shine can be seen in intervals, shooting up and down between my fingers along the metallic handle. I can sense the edge.
I can see my wrist, a vein twisting through it with a hard pulse. I can see the delicate lines, guessing their way across the skin. How frail is life. Better close your eyes. Close your eyes, I say. Do it.
I close my eyes and with a light, effortless relief, my thoughts are lifted, flying away from the moment. They are lifted, turning over the edge, cutting up and away, heading for a far, far time in the past.
I have no will. I have no curiosity.
What now, I ask. What if I have no blood. What if I am no longer here?”
Would you change anything in your latest book?
Not a word.
Share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s a short excerpt, my poem that opens the poetry book A Sentence, Unfinished:
Sucked in by a force, I’m flying through a tunnel
The tunnel of memory that leads me back home
The past blurs my present, so my vision is double
Walls of my childhood cave into a dome
From here I can see that home, tilting
And falling from place, all the lamps are aflame
My father’s empty chair is slowly ascending
Tipped by the light, outlining its frame
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
What I find challenging is the transition between points of view. In Apart From Love, two characters take turns describing the events: Anita and Ben. While Ben is refined and well-educated, Anita speaks in slang. No wonder one of my reviewers called her a ‘vixen’ while the other called her a ‘diamond in the rough.’
You would be hard-pressed to find a three-syllable word in anything she says. The lack of long words is compensated by descriptive sequence of short words (see the replacement for ‘magnifying glass’ below.) You can spot a liberal use of the dreaded double-negative, and of the word ‘like’. In the excerpt she describes the memory of her first kiss with Lenny. Some readers told me, tongue-in-cheek, that the would need a cold shower by the time she completes her story. But one reader found the style of the excerpt incosistent. He complained that at times Anita is lyrical, and at other times her thoughts are expressed in slang.
So I ask you: why can’t a character combine both? Even if your grammar is atrocious, even if your vocabulary is somewhat lacking, does that mean you can’t feel the throes of pain, or the exhilaration of joy? Does it mean you can’t paint what you see, feel and think? As you form your own answer, I invite you to sense the texture and the power of unrefined language, by listening to Anita’s voice:
“What matters is only what’s here. I touch my skin right under my breasts, which is where the little one’s curled, and where he kicks, ‘cause he has to. Like, he don’t feel so cosy no more. Here, can you feel it? I reckon he wants me to talk to him. He can hear me inside, for sure. He can hear every note of this silvery music.
It ripples all around him, wave after wave. I can tell that it’s starting to sooth him. It’s so full of joy, of delight, even if to him, it’s coming across somewhat muffled. Like a dream in a dream, it’s floating inside, into his soft, tender ear.
I close my eyes and hold myself, wrapping my arms real soft—around me around him—and I rock ever so gently, back and forth, back and forth, with every note of this silvery marvel. You can barely hear me—but here I am, singing along. I’m whispering words into myself, into him.”
Do you to travel much promoting your book(s)?
I am lucky to be living in the Los Angeles area, where many of my readers reside; so most of my traveling in promotion of my book is designed to attend book club meetings, where I answer questions about my novel, Apart From Love.
Hint: if you belong to a book club, and live in the LA area, let’s talk!
Who designed the covers?
I did. You can see my original set of three oil painting on my blog, here: http://uviart.blogspot.com/2012/01/where-did-cover-image-come-from.html and the cover, front and back, here: http://uviart.blogspot.com/2012/01/new-version-design-for-softcover-of.html
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s